My name is Erika Natarajan and I am happy to share my story. I hold a master’s degree in ecology and am a practicing biologist. My passion for biology took root in my childhood home, where a spacious patio adorned with numerous plants and inhabited by various insects sparked my fascination. My academic journey commenced with a bachelor’s degree at the Universidad Industrial de Santander- UIS in Bucaramanga. In 2004, I embarked on a new chapter, relocating to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, to pursue my master’s degree at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana- PUJ.
During the pursuit of my master’s degree, I actively engaged in teaching biology at several universities, enriching my academic experience and sharing my knowledge with others. Following the successful completion of my master’s program, I secured a position at the Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario-ICA labs, a role I consider a dream job. This professional opportunity allowed me to contribute to meaningful research and practical applications in the field.
A Leap into a New Life in Canada
In December 2020, I embarked on a life-changing journey, leaving my home in Colombia to start anew in Canada. My reason for moving was as unique as it was heartwarming – I married someone who owned a suite in Surrey. Little did I know that this move would open doors to remarkable opportunities, one of which was the discovery of the Library Champions Project.
Library Champions Project: A Gateway to Community and Growth
While studying at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., I stumbled upon the Library Champions Project through an email from my teacher. Engaging in this volunteer program not only gave me a strong sense of purpose but also allowed me to contribute meaningfully to my new community. Volunteering became a bridge to connect with others, fostering personal and professional growth. The experience enhanced my communication skills, providing a sense of belonging and making a positive impact on the lives around me.
Surprising Discoveries in Canadian Libraries
Participating in the Library Champions Project introduced me to the comfortable and diverse world of British Columbia libraries. Beyond books, libraries in Canada offer a plethora of resources and activities, from online courses to robotics for kids. The interconnectedness of libraries across different locations and the inclusion of diverse collections reflects Canada’s commitment to a multicultural society.
Contrasts between Colombian and Canadian Libraries
Reflecting on my experience, I observed significant differences between libraries in Colombia and Canada. Canadian libraries, characterized by extensive resources and diverse collections, stand in contrast to Colombian libraries, which primarily provide information in Spanish. The emphasis on cultural diversity in Canada is evident not only in library collections but also in modern art and architectural designs, turning library visits into unique tourism opportunities.
Missing Home and Looking to the Future
Despite the enriching experiences in Canada, I still miss my family, the aromatic coffee, and the picturesque Andes. However, my focus remains on completing high school and college, with aspirations to become a registered biologist with the Association of Biologists in B.C.
Diverse Engagements: From Radio Upgrades to Prayer Communities
My journey in Canada involves diverse engagements. Currently, I am working on a project to upgrade the radio room at Surrey Fire Hall 1 with a Surrey Emergency Program Amateur Radio (SEPAR). Additionally, I have participated in a panel discussion about the experiences of new immigrants with the library system. Outside of these activities, I am a part of the prayer community “Amigos de Jesús” at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Parish.
Embracing Challenges and Spreading Smiles
In my quest for personal growth, I actively seek out challenges and connect with people from various backgrounds. I believe that, as humans, we share a common thread, transcending language barriers. Being empathetic and wearing a smile are universal keys to meaningful connections.
Future Plans: From High School to Biologist
Looking ahead, my plans include completing my high school diploma, studying at Langara College, and achieving my dream of becoming a registered biologist. Despite the challenges, I am determined to share my journey with others, emphasizing that with support, time, and effort, success as a new immigrant in Canada is achievable.
A Grateful Journey in an Amazing Country
My journey from Colombia to Canada has been a tapestry of diverse experiences, from volunteering in libraries to engaging with the ham radio community. Canada is an amazing country, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to be here. As I continue to grow and contribute to my new community, I look forward to what the future holds. The possibilities are as vast as the Canadian landscape, and I am eager to explore them all.