Two days after school started, Amandeep’s daughter came home from school weeping. She said “Mom I don’t understand what they are saying. They are not playing with me. I’m not going back to school, I’m going back to my grandma!”
This experience was heartbreaking, not only for her six-year old but for Amandeep as well. This was her foremost concern when they arrived in Manitoba. “My greatest fear was for my children. I was worried that they will feel homesickness. They are very close to their grandparents. They used to live with them when we were in India. My two-year-old son always walked outside with his grandfather,” Amandeep said.
This is a problem many newcomer families face. But Amandeep’s experience also shows how resilient and adaptable children are. Today, barely five months from arriving in Manitoba, her daughter has adjusted well in her second grade class. Amandeep also credits the teachers for giving her child full support. “They are always encouraging my daughter by giving her toys and activities so that she can enjoy school,” she said.
Amandeep breathes a sigh of relief and now focuses on her own settlement journey. She has attended the four-week program at the Entry Program in November despite having issues with childcare. This is why she was so thankful to discover online learning with Live & Learn.
“Through this program I have learned things like the bus route, how to check the schedule, how to get the bus pass. I’m learning about stores also – where we can purchase things, how to get there… We get a lot of information about how we can protect ourselves and our kids when we are outside. I learned that when it is cold, we should cover the neck. Before, I didn’t know how important this was.”
Learning at home when the baby is asleep
Amandeep has been actively participating in the Coffee Chats and Drop-in Workshops since December. “I think it’s very good. If I didn’t learn about English Online, I would not be learning anything because I will be at home taking care of my two-year old son. And now I’m learning a lot every day even if I’m just here at home,” Amandeep said.
“Through this program I have learned things like the bus route, how to check the schedule, how to get the bus pass. I’m learning about stores also – where we can purchase things, how to get there. Another important thing is learning about the weather. We get a lot of information about how we can protect ourselves and our kids when we are outside. I learned that when it is cold, we should cover the neck. Before, I didn’t know how important this was,” Amandeep added. “Our e-Facilitators Amrita and Blaine help us learn a lot of practical things. Other students also ask questions. So we learn from them too.”
Her positive experience with Live & Learn has led her to recommend it to friends. “I have a friend who has been in Manitoba for four years. She had a baby shortly after arriving here. So she was a stay-at-home mom for a year and a half. I told her recently about these classes and now she has also joined. She said that if only she knew about English Online before, she would not have wasted a year and a half. We have another friend who is a firetruck mechanic. My husband told him about my classes online and now they (the friend and his wife) are asking me how to join,” Amandeep said.
Recently, Amandeep has also taken classes from an English Online e-Tutor who she meets every Tuesday and Friday. “I take these classes while my son is asleep and I can study. I have conversations with her and she helps me with my pronunciation. I’m also reading books and she told me I can ask her questions and tell her if I have problems,” Amandeep said.
Studying and other future plans
“I am thinking that when my child is a little bit bigger, I can study a course related to my field and then get a job here,” Amandeep said. She has an MSC degree and worked as a network technician for a school back in India. “I am also looking to get my mother a visitor visa so that she can come here for six months and help me with the kids. I would then be able to take a course,” she added.
But for now, Amandeep is learning more about Manitoba and improving her English before she explores her career options. What is important to her is using her time productively while at home. She is also looking forward to spring and summer when she and her kids can go outdoors and play. As it is, she is very careful about letting her kids run around indoors as the noise irritates their neighbours downstairs. This is another situation newcomer families with young kids need to be careful about when living in an apartment.
Tips for other newcomers:
- It is important to have a relative or friend in Manitoba. It would be good to have someone who can help you. When we arrived, I was nervous and afraid. I was not sure if anybody can help us or not. We had relatives here but they had to move to Brampton. It was good that I have a friend who offered to help us. She picked us up from the airport. She actually took a week off from work just to help us settle. Our friend helped us get important documents like our SIN, heath card and other documents that we needed. We also stayed with her for month before we found an apartment.
- Starting here is very hard. But don’t make it hard on yourself. Start slowly, learn when you can. Take it easy especially during winter.
- Take courses at English Online because it saves you time and you can learn while you are at home. Even after you get a job, you can still take classes here because they have classes in the morning and the topics are repeated in the evening so you can still join. All the information I get here is very beneficial for me and my family!