Double hooray for our June Language Contest Grand Winner, Mariela Camero!!
Double, because aside from her language contest win, we’re also celebrating her CLB promotion. Just before this interview, Mariela took her assessment test with her teacher Tanveen and the results showed that she’s moved up another notch in her CLB level. This is a stellar achievement considering that she started learning English only six months ago.
Like most of our successful learners, Mariela is quite diligent in her studies despite having a full time job. Aside from having a one-on-one instructor in the LINC Home Study program, she also attends our informal drop-in classes and joins the language quizzes whenever she has time.
From Venezuela by way of Ecuador and Uruguay
Mariela came to Manitoba to join her husband in July 2021, but moving to a new country is not new to her. In 2016, she and her family left their native country Venezuela due to the economic and political upheaval there. They moved to a neighbouring country, Ecuador, lived there for two years, and then moved again to Uruguay.
However, Mariela says that moving to an entirely new continent is harder. Like other newcomers, she had to adjust (and is still adjusting) to a new language, weather, and culture. “I’ve never been to Canada before, so everything was difficult,” Mariela said. She remembers, “I was even afraid to cross the street because it seemed so big to me. I was also afraid to get on the bus and get lost.”
Another concern was the language. Even though she learned some English back in her home country, she never practiced speaking because everyone around her spoke Spanish. “The first time I went to the Canadian supermarket alone, I could not understand anything the cashier was asking me. I got so frustrated that I left the store crying. I really wanted to go back home, everything seemed difficult here. I was also so afraid to start working. I was terrified of the idea of working and not being able to understand anything they said to me. I was feeling so alone, not having friends or anyone to have coffee with and talk about my experience. It was hard,” Mariela said.
And then shortly after she came here, she received news that her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. “This was another hard moment for me. I wanted so much to go return home and be a support for my family. At the same time, I was experiencing my own challenges here. This certainly made my transition more difficult,” she said.
“Since I received my first class, I was very happy and excited to be studying formally. For me, it has been incredible help, in each class I learn something. I try to attend as many classes as possible, because any time when you’re in class, you learn something. My vocabulary, my pronunciation have improved a lot.”
Grit and positivity
It’s tough facing all these challenges but it turns out, Mariela is tougher.
Instead of focusing on her fears and problems, she resolved to improve her English and find work. She went to the Immigrant Centre where the good folks there assisted Mariela in her job search and referred her to English Online for language training.
Mariela remembers the first time she attended an online class with fondness: “When I attended my first class in the program, everybody spoke English and I thought, wow, this is going to be hard. At first I thought it would be explained in my own language and I discovered, no, it’s not like that, it is English everything! But how the teacher handled the classroom matters. I remember my teacher (Blaine), he introduced me to the class and said ‘Welcome, Mariela, I speak a little Spanish too. Actually my wife is from Mexico.’ This is a good memory for me, he made my day happy,” Mariela said. She adds, “Blaine is a very passionate teacher. He handles the classroom well. He always tries to understand what everyone says, even if it’s good or not, or even when the pronunciation is not very good.”
“Since I received my first class, I was very happy and excited to be studying formally. For me, it has been incredible help, in each class I learn something. I try to attend as many classes as possible, because any time when you’re in class, you learn something. My vocabulary, my pronunciation have improved a lot,” Mariela said.
Aside from improving her English, she says she has also developed focus and concentration. “I know that I need to give 100% concentration in my class because it’s easy to be distracted when you have your phone or when you’re in the house. There are distractions like if you have kids, or if you need to start cooking…everything can be a distraction for you,” she said.
Learning and growing
Prior to moving to Manitoba, Mariela was working as a Beauty Advisor for L’Oreal in Uruguay. Now she is working as a caregiver, a job where her positivity and service orientation skills make her shine. “I really like my job, I enjoy helping another person. This client is just very special for me,” Mariela said. “My client also allows me to take classes just as long I have everything ready for her,” she added.
With everything improving on all fronts, Mariela is starting to appreciate her life in Manitoba. “I think Manitoba is a small province that has many benefits. For example, being able to be in in this online English program that is only for Manitobans is a great help for me,” Mariela said.
Another great news is that her sister back in Uruguay is better after receiving treatment. This is a big weight off her shoulders and something that she is extremely grateful for.
Mariela’s story is a good reminder that focusing on opportunities and working on things we can change works better than dwelling on difficulties. A little over a year into her settlement journey, she is thriving and inspiring others with her positivity and hard work. Congratulations, Mariela!