A FAMILY OF FRIENDS

When Arushi reached out me to write something for the blog, I immediately thought of sharing how important relationships and friendship is to me.

I think all of you know by now that I had a surgery right after my arrival in Vancouver, but I’ve never really talked about my feelings and the logistics of the event. So I want to share that with you today and talk about how essential people are in my life.

I was lying in the operating room, shaking and trembling from head to toe, as not only did I spend five days all alone without food and a single drop of water but also because I lied there without anyone by my side. My friends, loved ones and family were all back home and no one was there to comfort me as I got my very first anesthesia that would potentially knock me out, for the doctors to surgically remove an organ from my body. The idea itself sent shivers down my spine. Now imagine having to go through it all alone. I was just staring at the dazzling, pale lights as a group of strangers, with their faces behind a mask surrounded me, preparing for the surgery in silence. I woke up alone in the middle of night, in a room that was dark and quiet, I was even wondering if I was even alive. That was that time I found myself craving for a friend by my side. I just needed for someone to take care of me, to support me and to understand my feelings.

Yup! That’s me with the forehead. But like I said – it’s about friends and these are mine.

I believe friendship is not something that’s easy to gain and maintain. It’s something that happens naturally, without an obvious intention. For me, it happened when Terry said the words – “Don’t be afraid, we got your back”- when I was giving up at the Ropes Course (this was during the second day of orientation for MM). It happened when Julia shared two long paragraphs with me sharing her tactics on how to learn things effectively. It also happened when Janice called me anxiously when she realized I was lost in a bus route change. It happened when Jing rode the bus for almost an hour to bring me my charger, when she herself had a lot of things to do as she was settling down in her new apartment. I think these little things add up and that’s how you end up with a support system. There are so many instances wherein a bunch of my classmates came up to me to appreciate my contribution. They certainly helped me conquer my fears, become more confident, relieve me of stress and most important of all – understand me.

It’s hard to forge friendships in a different cultural setting, using an unfamiliar language, but I was so lucky to have such an amazing network of classmates that are supportive, honest and genuine.

Written by Jerry (Zhirui) Liu MM ’18

ALUMNI GUEST ENTRY : USMAN BHATTI

The day I got my admission letter to the MM Program was also the day my father suffered multiple strokes. For 7 days, I sat outside the ICU until he opened his eyes. His nurses knew me by now as the kid who never left, even after visiting hours were over.

On that 7th day, I got a phone call at 4am,”Usman? Your Dad woke up, he’s asking for you”. I was at the pharmacy, getting his medicines. I am sure I had an overdose of adrenaline in my system as I ran to the ICU.

I approached his bed; he looked into my eyes, the first thing he said to me “Did you get in?”. I held back the tears but they kept pouring as I nodded,”Yes”. The second thing he said to me, “Why are you still here? Go! I am Okay”.

A year later, I arrived in Vancouver. I knew no one. I was staying at an AirBnB for 7 days during which I had to find a long term place to stay. I did not know how to get around, Google maps was very new to me, as were working transit systems. I was overwhelmed to say the least. Immediately stress started to pile on.

During Orientation Week we were pushed to get out of our comfort zones and all I could think to myself was, “How much more out of my element, could I really be?”. I pushed on and I met Kristen Underwood who not only found me a place to stay but also became nothing less than family in this now exciting and new city. She was followed by 54 other individuals in this cohort who showed me nothing but love and helped become a part of this beautiful city and country.

But 6 months later, stress started to pile on again as I got close to completing the course and was nowhere close to finding a job. Once again, Sauder pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, holding networking events and pushing us to make something happen for ourselves. At one of these networking events I met Ania Cox, the Director of HR at Western Forest Products who asked me if I was looking for a job, when I smiled, she handed me her business card and 3 weeks after my last class (and countless sessions with Carly Boettcher) at Sauder, I had the offer letter in my hand.

I am now living on Vancouver Island and I have 6 months to come up with ways to enhance a multi-billion dollar business. This time, I am not stressed about it. Because Sauder’s MM gave me everything I need to take this challenge head on. I have worked hard to get where I am, but I am hungry for more. Nothing is impossible. Take a step back, breathe and close your eyes. Ask yourself; what do you crave? What will you do to get it? Remember, “Tuum Est” (It’s Upto You).

Group photo

– Usman Bhatti, MM’17