When Vivan came to Vancouver with her daughter she was escaping many challenges and was facing many more. Now, with the help of Dress for Success Vancouver, Vivian is a life-long learner, an enthusiastic volunteer, a feminist, and a proud mom to her teenage daughter. She is working towards becoming a licensed social worker so she can help vulnerable women and children lead better lives and enjoy better stories. Read Vivian’s story or watch her tell it here.
When people see me in the public, many of them think I am a rich Chinese woman with a nice husband supporting me because that is the stereotype. That isn’t my story.
I have worked very hard to get where I am today. My life hasn’t been an easy one. I grew up with poverty and abuse – both of these were cycles that had existed in my family for generations.
I began to realize that life had more to offer when I finally got to go to school. I loved school and I was very good at it. The teachers were kind but I dreaded coming home every day. It was education that saved me. It gave me perspective on the world and inspired me to want a better life.
Eventually, I graduated university and got a job. To give myself an even better chance I got a Masters Degree, worked for an international company.
I got pregnant with my daughter. In order to avoid social stigma I had to marry her father. When my daughter was born, I knew I didn’t want her to grow up the way I did. So, I felt like immigrating to Canada was our best hope.
We applied to leave China as a skilled immigrant and we were accepted. I came to Canada in 2003 when my daughter was a toddler. We were in total culture shock. Her father didn’t even stay in Canada for a month. He left us in Vancouver and moved back to China. He did come back, but it was a bad situation when he did. I realized the cycle of abuse was continuing and I knew I had to stop it for her sake and for my own. I connected with services in Vancouver including Dress for Success Vancouver and began to get the help I needed to break the cycle.
Eventually it got better, but not without the help of organizations like Dress for Success Vancouver. Dress for Success Vancouver provided me with clothing, skills and community to help me get my footing and thrive here in Canada.
I am proud to say that now that I am a life-long learner, an enthusiastic volunteer, a feminist, and a proud mom of girl who is in grade 12. She thrives at school and is determined to going to university. She is a constant source of encouragement to me. Whenever I am sad or stressed, she always knows what to say to make my day brighter. Together we are braking the cycle of abuse experienced by the women in my family.
I would like to say that my story of escaping poverty and abuse is an isolated incident in society. But, it’s not. I am working towards becoming a licensed social worker. I am aiming to help women and children – vulnerable people like we were to create better lives and better stories.