Award Recipients’ Insights: Zeerak Hassan and Embracing the Unknown

Zeerak is the 2015-2016 recipient of the Personal Development Award from Salad King and Ryerson’s International Student Support

When I first came to Canada I didn’t even know how to use the subway, and now I find myself travelling alone all over the GTA. The difference between then and now is that I learned to embrace the unknown, and to always push myself further and further out from the bubble of my comfort zone.

To me, learning is a continuous process, and it can happen anywhere from inside a classroom to a bus stop on King St. The key point to note however, is that you must be willing to learn, and bear the humility to accept that despite all the knowledge you may have, there’s still a lot to be learned, if only you take the time to stop and observe.

As an international student I completely empathize with all the struggles we face coming to a foreign land away from home. To this day, I often find myself doubting my choices, or questioning the purpose of my stay here. However, I remind myself that I must persevere always in the face of hardship, and that I’m not alone in these trials. The struggles and hassles that I experienced to come here are reasons enough to make myself push harder and break through barriers that hold me back.

My advice to all students out there, especially those that have sacrificed so much to be able to stand here with us today is that while you must never forget where you come from, don’t ever let that hold you back or let yourself think that you’re inferior to anyone else here. Your beliefs and values are what will keep you rooted to the ground on Earth, and at the same time your fight and resilience will bear you the wings to soar through mountains.

Let your fear and worries be the fuel that drives your engine, and not the fire that burns you alive. Believe you can, and you will fly.