Never forget where you came from.

By Younas Chaudhary

The first few months were hard arriving as an immigrant in Canada four decades ago. I missed my family, friends, the mouthwatering smell of pakoras, samosas, and the nice strong tea in earthen clay pots. Instead, I had to settle for coffee in the freezing weather of a totally alien Western culture.

Younas Chaudhary

As immigrants we all go through a period of adjustment as we assimilate into the culture of our host country. However, sometimes we forget our roots and pretend to be who we are not, just to fit in to the new culture. My journey was no different. In the beginning, I would pack roti (round flatbread) and achar (spicy pickle) for lunch. However, I soon changed to sandwiches and turkey after seeing the weird looks from my co-workers. I had to give away part of my identity to fit in!

I noticed that the West lacked emotion as people were curt and abrupt in their behavior. Instead, I came from a culture filled with noise and community where expressing emotions of laughter and grief were always welcome. There was no abruptness, instead, there was warmth and hospitality.

During my first three years as an immigrant, I never wanted to assimilate into this new culture and I did not want to give up my roots. All I wanted to do was make $100,000, return to Pakistan and my traditions, and live there the rest of my life.

The birth of my first child changed my perspective. I realized that the quality of life in the West was unmatched compared to my home country. Kids could wear nice shoes, beautiful dresses, and there were diapers, a rarity in the Pakistan of the 1970’s.

As years passed, I assimilated to the culture of the West and felt comfortable as my etiquette, mannerisms, and behavior resembled Western people. This gave me confidence. I was proud when I got my Canadian citizenship and later my USA citizenship.

Over the years, I have observed that certain immigrants have the “us” versus “them” perspective when comparing their lives to the people of the host country. This is wrong, short sited and a waste of time. To the contrary, I wanted to compete, be good, and stay ahead of the competition irrespective of their nationality or ethnicity.

My goal was simple: stay steadfast and try to win, irrespective of thinking where you came from. Yet, my roots were important to me. I have never forgotten where I came from. Never forget your roots! Blessings.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.

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