Newcomer Stories

Newcomer Story: Rhea Bugarin

Rhea's lab picRhea Bugarin is a lady with a plan. She is petite and somewhat soft-spoken, but while talking to her, you will realize that she is a person who has determination and a strong drive to succeed. Prior to coming to Manitoba, Rhea, a medical technologist, was already managing a hospital laboratory in the Philippines. But because she wanted more opportunities for growth and because her cousins did a good job of convincing her, she applied through the Provincial Nominee Program and landed in Manitoba in April 2013.

Horror stories

While Rhea was set on coming to the province because of the great things her cousins had told her about living here, she was also anxious because of the horror stories she had heard from other people. “Generally, they said it will be hard to get to the same level where you currently are at in your career. They said that life would be difficult in Manitoba. There will be discrimination and you could be stuck in survival jobs for the most part,” Rhea said. For someone who was very career-driven, this made her wary. However, it was this fear that pushed her to do more research and prepare thoroughly for her impending new venture.

Learning English and beyond

Foremost in her process of preparation was getting her language skills ready. “I thought that being very comfortable with English would help a newcomer succeed, so I made sure that it was on top of my ‘to-learn’ list before coming to Manitoba,” Rhea remembers.

She came across English Online in one of the documents CIC sent her. “I was amazed that Manitoba had a free initiative like that. Out of curiosity and backed with the goal of improving my language skills, I signed in.” But beyond developing her proficiency in English, what Rhea appreciates most were the courses that touched on settlement and career topics. “Aside from learning English, courses about workplace culture (and the culture of Canada in general), career advice, what to expect in Manitoba and how to make a Canadian-style resume, helped me a lot in my journey. Iwona, Natalia, Ianthe, Olesea and Blaine were among the dedicated people who facilitated these courses,“ Rhea enthuses.

“While the e-facilitators told us about the challenges we will be facing, they also assured us that Manitoba is a wonderful place and that the people are friendly. This helped me set realistic expectations before coming here. And when I came to Manitoba, I did see that people are friendly and that it is a wonderful and welcoming place”, Rhea continues. She was a learner with English Online for about a year before she came to Manitoba.

Rhea believes that research, planning and preparation made it easy for her to settle in her first few months in Manitoba. She didn’t find it too hard to adjust, even in the winter months, because she said that she knew what to expect and was set for it.

Land of opportunity

Today, Rhea is working at Manitoba eHealth, which provides electronic health systems to health care providers in the province. Her work has allowed her to shift into an IT-related field while still making use of her knowledge in the medical sciences. She has also obtained her medical technologist certification despite intending to shift careers when she got here. “I felt that I needed to achieve the certification as a fall-back in case my plan for a career shift is not successful,“ she said.

Aside from working full-time, she is also now an e-volunteer with English Online. Rhea believes that it is her opportunity to give back to the organization that was instrumental to her smooth integration process. She also wants to impart her experience and knowledge to help newcomers like her.

Words of wisdom

To other newcomers, Rhea has this to say:

“Prepare, do your research before coming to Manitoba. For those who are already here, never stop learning. Free resources are available, use them. Learn the language, it is the first step to understanding the work culture. Be open minded, think for example, discrimination does not really exist at all, that it could just be miscommunication . And most importantly, determine how you can overcome other expected hurdles, even better if you find ways to use them to your advantage, in a good way. ”

“Also, one needs to be flexible and adaptable. Although it is important to retain one’s culture, and Manitoba encourages multi-culturalism, you must also learn how to respect and manage to get along with people’s ways here. This is not just applicable career wise, but this will also make your life easier in general.”

Newcomer Story: E. H.

It was the beginning of February. We just arrived from the airport to our rental apartment. It was empty. It had no beds, no table, and no chairs. My son asked me, “Why don’t we have a TV?” and “where we are going to sleep?” A friend of ours brought us a couple of mattresses and a little food. We ate, and then we lay down and fell asleep.

The first month was full of action: lots of shopping, paperwork, and visiting different places, such as the bank and health clinic. We met lots of new people, and of course, we continued studying English all the time with English Online. At the end of the month, we already had a TV, beds, and a table. We had everything we needed in our apartment. Our son was going to school just like any “normal” Canadian kid.

The second month I started looking for a job. My profession is not in high demand in Winnipeg, but I tried very hard and used everything I learnt during my English Online classes. I sent my resume to all the companies that related to my job, even if they didn’t post any vacancies. I called related companies and asked them for an informational interview. After a few weeks I started working at my first job in Canada. A little while later, I decided that I didn’t want to pay for a lease anymore, so I started looking for a house for my family. We saw more than 20 houses before we found one that we really liked. We signed an offer and bought that house.

I want to thank English Online, all its teachers and volunteers for their incredible work. I would have never had this success without their help and support before and after my arrival in Canada. It’s not only English that they teach, it’s way more than that. It’s preparation for a new life!

Newcomer Story: Gemmarose Claveria

Gemmarose ClaveriaI am Gemmarose, I’ve been in Winnipeg for more than a year. As an immigrant, speaking and listening English is the first challenge to overcome. This is the reason why I enrolled in English online. I want to know the strategies in catching up to the fast-Canadian speech and to speak fluently in English. Learning English online is a great opportunity for me as a stay home mom. It gives silver lining in achieving my aims while being tied down with my sons.

At first, I found Learning English online to be very difficult. In this sort of study, I need to accomplish lessons differently from the traditional classroom learning. I need to set time aside to attend classes and study every detail. That’s my real experience in learning English online. I find lessons and exercises interesting and truly helpful. I love the way they value individuals. I am happy being one of the English Online community.

Newcomer Story: Kerstin Dinkheller

Kerstin DinkhellerI’m Kerstin from Germany and we have settled in Portage la Prairie. I came to Canada with my son on May 2nd, 2012. My husband has been here since 2009 so he was able to help us when we first arrived. In my first week here, I went to the Learning and Immigration Centre and they told me about the English classes that I still attend today. It is a place where I can meet people from different countries and speak with them.

During the summer, there are no classes so that was when I had the opportunity to register with English Online (EO). When I first started using EO, I took the courses and went to the recommended websites for English tests and quizzes. I enjoyed that but I didn’t know how to use the Learning Journal and I hadn’t tried to call my instructor because I didn’t feel that my speaking skills were very good. I finally attended a virtual class. I learned how I can use the Learning Journal so I wrote some sentences in that ‘book’. The virtual class gave me the courage to contact the e-Facilitator. I sent my first email to Ianthe at the end of August. I know the date because I wrote in my Learning Journal.

Around that time, I thought about applying for a job so I prepare my résumé with help from the people at the Learning and Immigration Centre. At home, I wrote a cover letter. I searched relevant websites. By the middle of September, I was ready to send my application by email to a company. Only a few days later, I was invited to come in for an interview. I was so happy!

At the same time, I attended virtual classes with Stephanie where I got good information about writing emails and thank‑you cards. Then I attended the EO four-week course called Workplace Communications. It was the perfect course for me because I got the job I applied for and I learned many things that I could and can use in my workplace. Now I have to speak with other people every day.

My goal for 2013 is to be able to dream in English!