Migration and me: moving, developing, going forward


Yingni, left, is an intern at IPPF Central Office in London.  She is from China and now studying at Boston. Her interests lies in youth health and development. 

It was a sunny afternoon in London. I was enjoying my time in this new city. Reflecting on my new internship at a global NGO I felt like a small drop. I'm passionate about health and development but what could a young person like me offer?

Who am I? I asked myself.  

I might be Miss Lucky?  As one of the 1.8 billion youth who should be responsible for the future, I am young and full of energy. I have lots of dreams like all of my peers. I am glad that I belong to the 89% of the world’s educated youth, I appreciate that I have never struggled with poverty, and I feel lucky that I am one of the 3.8 million students who have a chance to study abroad. I am also aware that, there are youths fighting every day just for the right to go to school; there are young migrants the same age as me who suffer from exclusion, discrimination, exploitation and poverty. I am lucky.

In my past, I might have been Miss Ridiculous.  It all started from the first time I left China. I was studying in a foreign country. I felt unsafe and unprotected though I had my family with me. I couldn't speak the local language. I didn’t have a friend of my same race. I felt lonely. The first day I came to school, I couldn't even read the 26 letters of the alphabet. I didn’t understand a word of what my teacher and my classmates said. At that young age, I experienced stigma and discrimination. Hostile classmates asked me questions that I couldn’t answer and then laughed at me. Everything seemed ridiculous and miserable. I was only 9 years old and I was hurt. I had never wanted change so badly. But I was not alone. Millions of young people who are away from their home countries suffer the same and endure even worse. 

Now, I might be Miss Brave! 12 years later, I decided to pursue education abroad. This means I would be on my own for the very first time living in a strange foreign country. However, this time, I wasn’t expecting the same experience I had when I was 9. I have changed. All these years of hard-working has made me stronger and more confident. My first day of school was very different from what happened 12 years before. I have dignity and self-esteem instead of being laughed at by my classmates. I think I believe in changes and braveness.  

As for tomorrow, I might be Miss Powerful! I've learnt that when young people have access to health and education, we become a powerful force for economic development and positive change. I might be one of them. I don’t want to live a life without thrill. I would love to embrace different cultures and people. I have experienced the delicate Chinese culture in Taiwan, I have enjoyed the freedom in US and I have witnessed the conservative characters from the Brits.

However, none of this might have happened. Like my friend back home in China, I might have already been a mum with a 2-year-old baby. Without control over my own reproductive health and my education, maybe I wouldn't have had the chance to see the outside world. I feel empowered and want to help the vulnerable. I don’t want to be indifferent to people who suffer. I have experienced fear, death, separation and desperation when I volunteered in the 2008 Sichuan earth quake. I might be the one who can make a change.

Who am I? I am just a young Asian female who believes in my generation and myself.