This week’s blog post comes from Melissa Chungfat (pictured holding a box of tinbits in the photo below) of MOSAIC – a multilingual, non-profit organization dedicated to assisting immigrants and refugees with their settlement and integration needs.
Denise and Red Amancio, wife and husband, have just arrived in British Columbia from Manila. They are excited to explore their community as well as the resources in the libraries.
Before arriving, Red took free online courses through the Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA) program, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The five free courses are for immigrants who are approved to come to Canada and will give them a head start in preparing for Canada before they connect with in-person services in their province. The courses focus on job search strategies and communicating within Canadian work culture.
Red shares how helpful the courses were as part of his integration into BC and how libraries will help with their settlement process.
Why did you and your wife decide to move to Canada?
We believe that Canada is one of the best places for us to settle in. We factored in the government, pollution, transportation, and quality of life. Canada is one of the most diverse countries we know, so we thought we could fit in easily.
What is your professional background and where did you grow up in the Philippines?
I was a computer programmer in the Philippines during the first four years of my career. I decided to take my chances and work in Singapore for three years after gathering my IT experience. Later I finally moved to Canada to hopefully settle in. I grew up in the suburbs of Manila. It is a quiet place, probably similar to Burnaby or Richmond, and it is called Alabang, Muntinlupa, or “sunrise, a small land” in English.
Which SOPA course did you take and how did it help you?
I took the Working in Canada course because I was applying for jobs while I was in the Philippines. The timing was perfect because when I arrived in BC, I had a few interviews and I learned how to negotiate a job contract in Canada through the course!
I wish I had learned about the courses sooner so I would have had time to take the other courses. I recommend other people start taking the courses as soon as they can before arriving in Canada.
Why do you think people should take these courses long before they arrive in Canada?
There is a lot of information in the internet nowadays, but only a few organizations can summarize the most important information in a concise way. SOPA was able to do that for me.
You have no idea how many pages on the internet we have read and how many hours it took for us to analyze and make sense of everything. And after all that reading, we still haven’t figured out what laws we will be governed by and other important topics!
There is one chapter in the SOPA course that talks about understanding work culture through the different characters in the readings, audio clips, and videos, which was really powerful.
How helpful was your intake counsellor Anisha before you took the course?
She was really helpful and jolly. You can hear from her voice that she is smiling all of the time and for me that is very important for a webinar. The one on one session is a really difficult task as you need to really listen to the other party and not just give generic answers. I didn’t feel any generic answers from Anisha. She was nice and really accommodating.
How will the library resources help you with your settlement?
My wife and I have been exploring different cities since we arrived and we are excited to check out the libraries. We will mostly see government and law related books because the laws are completely different than Singapore and the Philippines. We also want to read up on culture a bit more.