Day 116 - Navneet (4th person I approached)
April 26, 2014 - Navneet, which means ‘fresh’ and ‘one who is ever new,’ was born in the Punjab state in the northwest of India.
“I completed all my elementary and high school in India. In the larger towns of Punjab, there are Government schools that teach English. But where I’m from is a rather small place, so the schools only teach in the Punjabi language,” said Navneet.
“My father is a teacher, and works in a government school. He wanted his children to learn to speak English, so I went to a private school that taught all classes in English. Except for the Punjabi classes because we don’t want to loose touch with our own culture,” he said.
Navneet is the middle child of three.
“I am lucky that I have an older sister. She came to Vancouver two years before I did and so when I arrived, she was able to help me adjust to a new culture, easier. Canada is very different than India, and I think I would have had many problems if I had come here on my own. She made sure that I was going to the right places and getting into the right classes for school,” he told me.
Navneet’s sister had come to Vancouver to attend nursing school. Navneet’s Uncle sponsored her and helped her settle in. She is currently enrolled in the nursing program at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“My younger brother is still in India, so I guess when he comes to Vancouver, I’ll be the one to help him out. To pay it forward,” he said. Navneet has almost completed his first semester of Computer Sciences at Douglas College.
“When I finished school in India, I had to take an English exam and pass. Once I did that I was able to get a student visa to come to Canada. If you don’t pass the exam, you don’t get the visa,” he said. Navneet hopes to go into web development once he has competed his two year program at Douglas College. We spoke about the cost of education.
“My father spent money to make sure we had a good education. Because of that I am able to come to Canada to study. With my education here, I will be able to get a good job, better than I would in India, and I can start to send money back home. The investment my father made in our future is small in comparison to the life we will have because of it. Small investment, huge return. I am grateful for my father making those decisions.”
I asked Navneet what it is that he would say is his favourite thing about Vancouver. He ponders this for a brief moment and then tells me,
“I love the environment here. How green it is, how beautiful. The smell after it rains. Stanley Park, downtown is so incredible. In India there is a lot of deforestation. They don’t think about what’s going to happen once there are no trees left. They’re not planting any trees. Just cutting them all down. I also like how friendly people are here. If you go to California or other places, it’s almost like I feel a “go back to your own country” attitude. I’m happy to be here in Vancouver. I hope to be able to get a job after I complete school and that will give me a three year visa. I want then to be able to get permanent residency and stay here in Vancouver. My friends who went to government schools in India, and didn’t learn to speak English, can’t come to Canada."
Of course if you ask someone their favourite thing, it’s only fair to ask the least favourite. Or at least the most unexpected thing about coming to Vancouver. Navneet tells me,
“In india I spent my father's money without really thinking about it. Now that I’m going to school and working part-time, I understand the value and the cost of things. There’s so much that I chose not to afford,” Navneet says.
“The thing I like the least would have to be the price of things, and taxes. Tax on everything. I have friends who live in Edmonton and Calgary and they pay less tax for things than we do here in Vancouver,” he says. When I tell him it snowed in Calgary today, he laughs loudly and says to me
“Well, maybe that seven percent extra tax isn’t so bad then!” #notastranger