People Struggled to Pronounce My Name
Name: Kusum Wijesekera
Current City: Kelowna
As an adult I appreciate being exposed to two different cultures while growing up. However, being a child of immigrant parents from Sri Lanka meant I looked different and spoke differently as compared to the children at school. People struggled to pronounce my name and I was from a country that no one had heard of. For this I was made fun of and made to feel like an outcast. Today Canada is known for its rich diversity but multiculturalism was not always embraced. I did not fit the mold of a typical Canadian and I was looked down upon because of my heritage. I became ashamed of who I was. I anglicized my name. I worked hard to change my accent, forget my culture (including the language) and became as Canadian as I could.
As an adult I have traveled to a few countries. Visiting Sri Lanka for the first time in over 20 years was an unusual experience. I realized I tried so hard to become Canadian that I did not fit in my parents’ home country either. Who was I? Where did I belong? Along my travels, I have encountered many beautiful people, places and experiences. I realize we do not have to fit into a specific box or mold that a society sets for us. We need to create our own mold from our experiences, heritage and from the present culture of where we live. We also need to be accepting of those that do this.