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Kenya Dames always knew her future lay beyond the borders of her home

By Kenya Dames

During the second annual Halifax Experience event, student bursary winners were announced as part of the evening’s festivities. One of the criteria for qualifying for the bursaries was to write an essay detailing the student’s Halifax experience when first arriving in the city. Over the next few issues, My Halifax Experience is printing the essays of bursary winners to shine a light on their unique perspectives of this city we think we know so well. This is the second in the series, written by Kenya Dames.

 

I always knew I wanted to leave home. I felt I had so much to offer the world and my talents and ambitions were too massive to be confined to a small group of islands. I’m from the Bahamas.

I wanted to experience the world and leave my mark. For some reason, Canada, specifically Halifax, felt like the best option for me. My Halifax experience began from the moment I decided to attend university.

When I arrived in Halifax on Aug. 25, 2012, I knew it was a place that was right for me. The excitement I felt on that fateful day is still the same excitement I feel on a regular basis when I roam the streets of Halifax. There’s something about the atmosphere that enchants me. Maybe it’s the warm spirit of Nova Scotians or how easy it was for me to be integrated into such as diverse culture. The more I wandered, the more I discovered. The more I discovered, the more this city grew on me. Today, it’s like my second home.

I found myself stepping out of my comfort zone and becoming more open to things considered normal, or at least normal in Halifax, such as its delicacies. I ate a dish with gravy and cheese on French fries called poutine, and mystery meat with a thick white sweet sauce in a wrap called a donair. I remember when these foods were first described to me and I had to try them because I wanted to understand why people loved them so much.

It was also in Halifax that I had the opportunity to experience and engage with a lot of other cultures and make more connections than I could’ve ever imagined.

The location of Halifax was perfect, too. During my first fall, I headed down to the Annapolis Valley and went mud sliding, picked apples, ran wild through corn mazes, and carved pumpkins. All firsts for me. Halifax is so central in Nova Scotia that it makes experiencing the beauties of the province easier.

It was in Halifax where I experienced snow for the first time. If you saw me, you would’ve thought I was crazy. I was so thrilled to wake up to a fresh snowfall that I ran outside barefoot and in shorts. I made my snow angels and a few snowballs before the adrenaline escaped me and I realized how cold it really was. I began to love the colder months, so much that when I went back home to visit for the holidays, I would always find it incredibly hot. Today, I’m a master at walking down sidewalks covered in ice. I’m a pro at slipping and sliding and catching my balance before anyone notices.

I attend Mount Saint Vincent University and my school experience has greatly impacted my time in Halifax. I found it easy to get involved and try new things and learn more about the history of the country I was residing in. There were so many things new to me and I found myself becoming like a sponge, just wanting to soak up as much as possible.

Choosing to go to school in Halifax was probably the best decision I ever made. I met some of my best friends here and have had amazing opportunities. The people are incredibly friendly and welcomed me as if I was one of their own. I’ve had strangers stand up for me at work when I had to deal with difficult customers who crossed the line. I’ve brought joy to strangers in the simplest ways, just by showing them that people care. I’ve attended various festivals that highlight Halifax’s diversity. I’ve experienced food, music, and culture that’s vastly different from my own. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, and done things I wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to do.

 

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