Arijit Lodha is originally from India and moved to Calgary with his family in 2005. “When I first came to Calgary, I was one of the only brown kids at my school so I had nobody who could really relate to me,” said Arijit. “I didn't really fit in that well because I came from a very religious, very culturally rigid background. It took me a long time to make friends and get involved in extracurricular activities.”
While struggling to make friends in his new hometown, Arijit also faced serious health challenges, including seizures and a tumour in his jaw that required a major surgery. Rather than focus on his problems, he decided to use his experience to support other children facing adversity. He started volunteering at his school, helping support students on the autism spectrum. Outside of school, he co-founded the Rajasthan Association of North America Calgary Youth Group with his sister. The group helps empower newcomer youth, while raising awareness and funds for mental health initiatives and research Alberta Children’s Hospital.
We created the initiative because of our own mental health experience in Calgary—trying to maintain some of our cultural values as Rajasthan cultural group members, while striving to integrate into the Canadian society,” he said.
Arijit’s commitment to serving others has not gone unnoticed.
In 2019, Immigrant Services Calgary awarded Arijit the Immigrants of Distinction Youth Scholarship Award for his volunteering and charitable activities. At the awards gala, Arijit met former nominees and recipients of the awards and turned a night of celebration into one of opportunity. Through the connections he formed that evening, Arijit co-developed the Canadian Organization for Undergraduate Health Research, an initiative supporting immigrants and women of minority backgrounds in their aspirations to enter the research field.
Today, Arijit is a fifth-year kinesiology student at the University of Calgary, aspiring to become a clinical neurologist in the future. He hopes to continue giving back to the community and supporting newcomer youth to succeed and thrive in their new homeland.
Coming to a country like Canada has opened my eyes to the world,” said Arijit. “I have embraced the Canadian culture, while maintaining the cultural values of my community—and giving back is a big part of that.”
Immigrant Services Calgary helps over 10,000 newcomers each year, connecting them to programs and services to
unleash their economic, social, and civic potential.
By donating to Immigrant Services Calgary today, you can change the lives of newcomers like Arijit, and help build a stronger, more resilient Calgary and area.