Places I’ve lived
by Dan Wang
I’ve spent roughly equal parts of life in America, Canada, and China. Here’s that journey.
I was born in Kunming, a city in southern China, in a province that borders Myanmar and Vietnam. I grew up in a happy family until the age of seven. There I attended kindergarten and a single semester of elementary school.
Mom and dad decided that the three of us should live in Canada. We moved to Mississauga, on the outskirts of Toronto, in February, 2002. There I saw snow for the first time. I recall attending two elementary schools: Fisher Park (?) and Kingslake.
We moved to Ottawa in 2002. My dad started his Master’s in computer science. By then I was in grade four, attending Viscount Alexander.
We stayed in Ottawa for about seven years. I took the bus every day down Bank Street to Glashan Public School through grades seven and eight. This is the first and only school in which I stayed uninterrupted and for the full grades available.
After Glashan I attended Lisgar Collegiate Institute. To get to school every day I walked past the Department of National Defense, across the Rideau Canal, and with a nice view of Parliament Hill. At Lisgar I played clarinet and was at one point a Corporal of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets. My unit was called the 2784 Governor General’s Foot Guards Cadet Corps.
In 2008 we moved to America, just before the financial crisis really got underway. I got used to life in suburban Philadelphia and finished off high school at Central Bucks East.
I wanted to stay in America for college. For much of my high school life I thought that I’d be a professional clarinet player. When I had the chance to enter a conservatory to be classically trained, I turned it down. The University of Rochester accepted me and gave me a tremendous financial aid package. It was an easy choice.
I started at Rochester in August 2010, thinking that I’d study economics and English. It was only until sophomore year that I settled on the double-major of economics and philosophy. I had at one point gotten close to declaring a musicology major; for the second time in my life I rejected a career in music.
In the summer of freshman year I had my first real exposure to an office job: Rochester’s Communications office. I wrote a lot, got to know some wonderful and supportive co-workers, and am supremely glad to have had this first foothold. They liked me too.
I had two internships in the summer of sophomore year: as an investigative reporting intern for Radley Balko at the HuffPost and as a strategic planning intern at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Both were fabulous experiences, and I can’t remember another summer with greater fondness.
It’s because these two were so fun that I got fidgety in junior year. I teamed up with two friends to develop a startup idea. We applied to Y Combinator’s Summer ‘13 session.
We never made it. I still decided that I wanted to get away from school for a bit. So I didn’t return for senior year.
I made my way back to Ottawa, working two jobs, both in marketing. First I was a Customer Experience Marketing Solutions Assistant (16 syllables, count ‘em) for Alcatel-Lucent, a French telecom. And I was a MarComm intern at a small design firm.
In November 2013 two big things happened: first, my grandfather, whom I was very close to, passed away. I went back for for an incredibly meaningful visit.
Second, I found my current position in the growth team at Shopify. It’s an amazing company.
That’s where I’m at now. I plan to go back to Rochester in August 2014. I’ll update this then.
But wait there’s more
If we’ve ever known each other at some point, please do reach out. I’ve moved too many times and have attended too many schools, but think often of the places I’ve been and the people I’ve known. It’s terrible and absurd that I don’t have Facebook, so there’s all the more reason I’d like to get in touch with you. I’m at danwyd @ gmail . com