Srijana (a.k.a. Jana) Sunuwar was born in Janakpur, Nepal. She spent her early childhood in Japan but immigrated with her parents to Vancouver in grade 9.
The move from the East to the West changed her life in multiple ways, but Sunuwar believes that it was a positive transition and that she changed for the better after her move to Vancouver. “Nepal being Asian and moving to Japan to another Asian country with a different culture, it was still a good transition for me,” she says. “I really warmed up to the foreign culture, to the Western culture.”
Sunuwar is a full-time nurse, and unofficially named herself Jana a few years ago to make the lives of patients easier in her people-oriented job. She felt that “Jana fits my personality more, as Srijana sounds very serious.”
Sunawar describes herself as an outgoing person who likes being around people, but this wasn’t always the case. In the past, she described herself as an introvert, a shy person who needed to make an effort to open up. However, “my work has changed me, and so has Vancouver.”
“When I first moved here, I was trying to be Canadian, I used to want to understand what it means to be Canadian,” says Sunawar, and she tried very hard to fit in.
However, she found that she loved the diversity in Vancouver because it made her aware of how similar all humans are. “I saw different demographics in Vancouver. It opened me up to people and forced me to talk to them; it also made me more inclusive.”
The diversity in Vancouver helped Sunawar relate to anyone in any culture, like her childhood in Nepal and Japan. It made her appreciate her differences as a Nepali immigrant much more, and expanded her awareness of different cultures. The similarities between all the people in Vancouver helped her realize “you just belong everywhere!”
When talking about her career in nursing, Sunawar mentions that there was a certain level of cultural effect on her: “Back home, boys are pushed into engineering, and girls are pushed into health care.” She wanted to pursue an art degree, but says “I know that you have to be really good to make it as an artist, so I diverged towards something safer, I chose health care.” With no regrets, she reports that she is living a very happy and open-minded life in Vancouver.
When asked about her favourite things about Vancouver, Sunawar mentions how much she enjoys the different cuisines she gets to try in the diversity that Vancouver brings. But most importantly, she appreciates the green trees, the nature, and the scenic spots, her favorite being White Cliff Park and the Horseshoe Bay area. “The feeling of the green trees, it’s so calming,” she says.
She claims that the first time she was introduced to hiking by a friend she was very surprised. “Back home the idea of walking up and down a hill is laborious, but here people treat it as an activity!” Her love for hiking and nature was born when she reached the top of her hike and saw the beautiful views, helping her to be present in the moment and forget all the pain of walking to the top.
Sunawar’s appreciation for Vancouver continues to grow in comparison to other parts of Canada: “When I went to Edmonton (for work) and came back to Vancouver, I really appreciated the tall evergreen trees,” she says.
Immigrating to Vancouver was an experience that changed Sunawar as a person. She is now someone who has grown out of her comfort zone, who can take risks, try new things, and open up a lot more than she used to.