I came here with a backpack full of hope…
2023 OrKidstra Graduate Mateo shares his story
I am an immigrant that came to Canada when I was four years old with a backpack full of hope.
I’m the kid next door that never thought that I would be able to play the clarinet, be in an orchestra, or perform on some of Canada’s biggest stages. That’s what I dreamt of and it’s thanks to donors like you that I’ve been able to reach my full potential.
I came here as a little boy and now I am graduating as a man!
It all started in Colombia with my mother, my father, my older brother and me. When I came here to Canada, I was shy, believe it or not, I could barely, barely continue a conversation! My brother and I started coming to OrKidstra in 2015 when I was 9 years old. I truly feel that the OrKidstra program has nurtured me and has been my home for the past eight years. Each time I come to OrKidstra, I feel this sense of warmness of home, of camaraderie between my peers, and the staff and teachers.
I’ve had my ups and downs with my clarinet, but it has now become my best friend. Something that I truly love about music is the aspect of trying; trying to give and radiate energy with your instrument.
Mateo and brother Javier before a holiday performance in December 2016.
Along with music, I was introduced to public speaking at OrKidstra by saying the Thank Yous at concerts. I struggled with it at the beginning, but each time I got a chance to speak, I tried to sharpen my skills and see where I could go with it. Having this opportunity had a big impact on me: I want a career where you can stand up and express what you think, what you want to change, and what you believe.
I want and aspire to change the world. I got to be where I am, and where I can one day become, thanks to OrKidstra.
Offering opportunities to underdeveloped communities makes a change, not only in that child’s life, but also in their family and friends. At OrKidstra, children get the chance to open their eyes to the power of music, to its reaches, and what it can become.
If I had the opportunity to talk to the donors, I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for giving me the tools to reach my full potential. It’s not just monetary support; you’re changing lives! I’m a university student now (I had the opportunity to start early), and I never thought I could reach higher education with all the adventures that I’ve been through. I’m studying International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa, and I aspire to become a lawyer.
I have been positively impacted by OrKidstra. I hope that many other youths can also be touched by the power of music.
Mateo with some of this year’s OrKidstra Graduates and Beginners.
As my brother did in 2019, I’m proud to be graduating this year and becoming an “OldKidstra!” In 2017, I shared with you that my life had become filled with harmony and joy since I joined OrKidstra; that is still true today and will be true in the future! OrKidstra donors really have an impact: you’re making a real change in our lives – in everyone’s lives – and all while supporting the power of music and helping to inspire children’s dreams. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few of the donors and they’re quite amazing people.
I want to help other communities around the world to give children the opportunity to reach their full potential so they can achieve their dreams.
So they can one day dream about exploring skills that they never thought they could have. And who knows, maybe they might become the best musicians the world has ever seen or they might become whatever they wish to. OrKidstra is about the power of transforming lives that help to make a change in our community.
All the hopes in that backpack continue to become realities!
I would genuinely not be who I am today without the help and support from OrKidstra. Thank you so much for playing your part!
Age 17, clarinet, 8 years at OrKidstra, 2023 OrKidstra Graduate, 2022 Volunteer Ottawa Young Leader in Volunteering Award, and House of Commons Page
P.S. I hope to see you at our End-of-Year Concert! We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on.
Mateo with his family and friends at the 2023 Ottawa Race Weekend.