Visited the Maasai village in Kenya in 2008
Like thousands of immigrants looking forward to an improved life for myself and my family, we arrived in Canada shortly after my second child was born. After briefly living in various cities in the lower mainland area, we researched and discovered the beautiful community of West Vancouver.
Like many newcomer immigrants with no family connection locally, I encountered significant challenges during my first two years. Although knowing this was the community I wanted to be in, I found myself alone with two young children to care for while my husband travelled extensively for work. The shift from having a full-time career to caring for two young boys alone felt daunting. This was the most isolating experience of my life. Fortunately, my resilience, optimism and energy helped me pass this stage and I was able to participate at so many of our community institutions. I volunteered for hours at my children’s schools, the library, and the community centre. With great inquisitiveness, I carefully observed and I learned.
Relying on both my educational background and career experience, I quickly realized how to navigate information and understand the school system to a great extent. In 2013, I successfully applied for a job as a settlement worker in the West Vancouver School District and felt grateful to have the privilege of serving newcomer families like mine who chose the local public schools.
During the one-on-one meetings, I answered questions and searched for information. Very often, I helped arrange meetings between parents and schools and interpreted for them. This work enhanced my understanding of the importance of IEP development (Individual Education Plan) and I witnessed first-hand the struggle of families to support their children and an appreciation of the expertise of skilled staff. I also hosted more than fifty information sessions on various topics. The quality of the sessions was highly praised by word of mouth. My information sessions were well attended and deeply appreciated by the participants.
During the last ten years while living in West Vancouver, I served on various boards and committees. The more I got involved, the better I understood my new home in Canada. The best reward for all these volunteer efforts is that I've received substantial support and friendship from a wide range of people of different ethnicities and backgrounds.
I hope my story can inspire other new immigrants to be actively involved and fully engaged in important decision-making in their communities.
In respect and gratitude, I recognize that I live, work and raise my children on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Nation).
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