Alumni Kulmekah Randhawa took the time to answer some questions and to update us on what he has been up to since his time with Experiences Canada. This quick read shows just how impactful, engaging, and empowering our programs can be.
Q: When and which programs did you participate in with Experiences Canada?
A: I participated in the Canada 150&me program. I hosted a youth at my home for the Vancouver forum and I went to Ottawa for the national forum. I was also a part of the Youth Advisory Committee for one year and I attended the AGM as well.
Along with these experiences, my trip to Toronto to attend the Wisdom2action conference was graciously fully covered by Experiences Canada.
Q: Can you please start with telling us a little bit about yourself?
A: I grew up in a city called Chandigarh in India and moved to Canada with my parents when I was 9. I faced some challenges initially adjusting to life in a foreign country however; I adjusted quickly, as at that age life in Canada was heaven for me.
I had wanted to become a doctor at a very young age but always knew that getting into this career in Canada is incredibly competitive. I applied to medical school in England however, I was unsuccessful as admission there was incredibly competitive. I also applied to a medical school in Rome, and as a backup option, started attending UBC, where I had been accepted in the Faculty of Science. I attended UBC for one month and then withdrew from courses when I was accepted to study medicine in Rome.
Studying in a country where I did not understand the language, and dealing with the complications caused by the pandemic in the past two years was incredibly distressing.
At the same time, I also realized that I did not have much of an interest anymore in becoming a doctor. I was curious as to why I lost interest in studying the subjects of the program I had tried so hard to get accepted into. In this introspection I realized that my interest had always been in the Arts. My interest in the Arts stems from always being fascinated with history, politics and learning languages – being fortunate enough to be fluent in Punjabi, Hindi and English.
I was very active in high school with student activities and in my community, which is why it was especially frustrating that I could not continue to do that in Italy. While attending university and balancing trying to learn Italian, studying for medical school and attending clinical practice I did not have much time to take part in student activities and I did not have enough of a grasp on Italian to properly participate in the activities.
With all this In mind, I recently withdrew from studying in Rome so I could try to come back to UBC by applying for readmission.
Q: Where are you now in life? Can you please describe a snapshot of what you are up to now?
A: Currently I am waiting for UBC Admissions to evaluate my file. In the meantime I’m trying to relearn the French I learned in high school as I would like to achieve a decent level of fluency before I begin post-secondary again.
I am also trying to focus on myself and my health. I did not feel like I had time to do so when I was younger because I was always hyper-focused on my career.
My current career path now is to become a Foreign Service Officer. I plan on majoring in international relations and at least complete a bachelor’s degree before applying to become an FSO.
Q: How did your participation and involvement with Experiences Canada influence your current career path?
A: When I look back at it now I realize I could not fully enjoy those incredible experiences. This is because I was struggling to convince myself that I should continue to pursue a career in medicine despite how much I loved aspects of the Arts I was exposed to on the trips I had with Experiences Canada.
However, those experiences were invaluable in influencing my current career path. I was able to understand my own interests in life due to the cognitive dissonance I faced in trying to convince myself that a career in medicine was right for me while realizing how engaged I was with the historical and political aspects of the trips.
Q: How are you coping with the pandemic and making it manageable for you?
A: Thankfully, restrictions in Canada are not and never were as tight as they were in Rome at the height of the pandemic. I am mostly just thankful that everything is starting to settle down slowly and that far fewer people are getting infected nowadays due to vaccination efforts.
Q: What advice do you have for today’s youth?
A: If I am honest, I believe no matter what advice I give, at the end of the day the issues today’s youth are facing do not come down to personal responsibility. No one should expect someone at the age of 18 to make the monumental decision of choosing their career. I am glad however, that now after dealing with all the stressors created by the pandemic the government is doing a lot to help youth with making the transition from high school to post-secondary.