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The Big Leap


As these four CPAs know, the quest for a better life in a new country rarely comes without a few hitches and hurdles by Rosalind Stefanac


W


HAT COMPELS SOMEONE to leave every- thing he or she knows to pursue a life halfway across the world? If it’s the prospect of better job opportunities, security for their families or a more


fulfilling existence overall, these accounting profes- sionals prove it’s a pursuit that doesn’t come easy. Even with a profession and years of experience under their belts, these Canadian newcomers show us just how humbling it can be to start all over.


Adrian Ong, financial analyst, provincial government of Manitoba (Winnipeg)


Although he owns a car, Adrian Ong takes the bus when- ever he can. It’s a little luxury this Winnipeg resident never had in his former life, where he always felt unsafe on public transit. “When I’m riding on the bus here I feel happy because I’m not afraid anymore,” he says. Home used to be the Philippines, and while Ong had


a good lifestyle and a successful career managing the finances for his family’s food-industry chain, security was becoming a major concern. “We had maids and a driver, but we couldn’t take transit or go out on our own,” he says, noting that on two occasions, he’d been poked in the neck with a sharp object by potential muggers when walking on the sidewalk. Years later his sister and brother-in-law would be brutally killed by robbers outside the factory they owned. “You don’t want to live in a world of paranoia as it’s not healthy for the heart and soul.” In 2006, the father of four started exploring options


to live elsewhere, especially as his eldest, Paul, was soon to turn 18 and would be a legal adult. (His other children, Geraldine, Alwyn and Johann, were 15, six and five years old, respectively, at the time.) “I had done everything my parents wanted in the first 40 years of my life and now I was going to do something for my kids,” says Ong, whose parents immigrated to the Philippines from Hong Kong when he was a child.


JUNE/JULY 2016 | CPA MAGAZINE | 39


Ian McCausland/KlixPix


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