My name is Leela-Lee to all my friends, neighbors, and on my student card. I was born in Thailand, the most beautiful country in South East Asia. My family lived happily in the small province of Chonburi which is 93 kilometers from Bangkok, on the East Coast of Thailand. My family’s house is just 1 mile from the Andaman Sea, so I grew up surrounded by blue skies, a wide ocean framed by sandy white beaches, warm sunshine, plenty of fresh seafood and tropical fruit.
My mother described me as “an adventurous girl who loved challenge and craved new things” – of course, she said it in Thai, not English. She was right, of course, because I began my first real adventure when I was just 23 years old! I left Thailand to visit the island nation of Singapore for 6 months. After returning to Chonburi for just a short time, I stayed in exotic Saudi-Arabia for an entire year. I returned to my homeland again, but Israel and the shores of the Mediterranean called out to me, where I worked for 5 years in a nursing home on a Kibbutz. Working in the communal Kibbutz taught me many things - how to be flexible and to adapt to different cultures, people and situations, and how to be a good listener. I also learned how creative I am. I now recognize these things as "life skills" that are transferable where ever I go.
I ran away from Israel on New Year's Eve from an angry rain storm and arrived in Canada in January 1992 to the warm welcome of another rain storm. I remember that I used to watch the sunset on the beach with my father near my house when I was young. Often, I asked him while looking at the big, round red ball slowly lowering itself toward the sea: “Where does the sun go, dad?” and the answer was, “It will rise on the other side of the world where people can enjoy the sunshine like we do". Watching the skies display their brilliant golden colours before disappearing always filled my mind with questions about the West, that "other side of the world". As I grew up, that feeling became a desire, a curiosity, and the need to explore new things. To "see and learn" was the first reason I came to Canada, but now I consider this country my home.
To survive, I first worked in the heath-care industry - something I enjoyed in Northern Israel. Aside from helping people, I also learned how to accommodate and solve problems when they occur. I ended my health career in 1995 when my doctor told me that I should consider other career.