Newcomers’ Welcome Party
Surrey, Vancouver, Aug 29, 2012
Richmond Multicultural Community Services (RMCS) had a very successful Newcomers’ Welcome Party on Tuesday, August 21 at the Caring Place. It was a commendable initiative undertaken by the RMCS. With prior registration only 30 or so individuals had expressed an interest in attending. However, to the Society’s pleasant surprise, more than eighty people showed up. The main purpose of this event was to welcome them and help them network with each other. It also gave them an opportunity to learn about their new environment and services available. It was an excellent way to help them start their journey on the right foot in their adopted country. In order to facilitate this process, RMCS had also invited elected officials and community leaders to welcome the newcomers and share their experiences and success stories with them.
Mayor Malcolm Brodie, in addition to welcoming the new immigrants to Richmond, mentioned some of the highlights about this community. This included Richmond as being the healthiest, inclusive, welcoming and most culturally diverse community. Richmond’s Member of Parliament, Alice Wong, as well as the three MLAs, sent their representatives to welcome the new immigrants. As an invited resource person to address the newcomers, I found this initiative to be very productive, enjoyable and worthwhile.
It goes without saying that newcomers to this country face a number of challenges. This is more so in case of people who come under the skilled workers category. Usually, they don’t have any family or relatives. As such, they lack any support structure in place here. Furthermore, they have very high expectations to get into the profession they had in their home country. Thus, they have a rude awakening and shock when they can’t find work that may not even be least compatible with their qualifications. Even getting a menial job in order to survive may be a challenge for them. This results in a lot of frustration, disappointment and a sense of insecurity for most of the newcomers.
Rather than feeling dejected, frustrated and insecure, the newcomers need to meet these challenges head on. First thing they need to do is to accept the reality that it is going to be tough slugging for some time. Once they come to terms with this reality, they may be in a much better frame of mind to move on. Learning more about their environment, acquainting themselves with suitable resources should go a long way in eventually getting their dream job and enjoy the good life. In this regard, the Internet and public libraries are a great resource. Also, organizations like SUCCESS, RMCS, PICS and various immigrant services outfits are there to assist immigrants – new and old –with orientation, job search and networking etc. They are there to help. All you need is to search them out and ask for their help. Also, cities like Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and Surrey have excellent resources to help new immigrants.
In order to begin their new life in their adopted country, the newcomers also need to lower their expectations. They must be willing to accept a job that may not be compatible with their qualifications/skills. If possible, they should also be willing to volunteer for whatever time they can afford. This will be helpful to them in acquiring/improving their language and social skills as well as eventual integration into the mainstream.
Having an attitude of optimism is always very helpful in meeting any challenge. This is more so in case of new immigrants. Late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once remarked that a pessimist sees difficulties/problems in opportunities. On the other hand, an optimist sees opportunities in difficulties/problems. The new immigrants in particular need to cultivate an attitude of positive thinking and optimism. With this kind of attitude they might find it easier to deal with any problems/challenges facing them.
Another piece of advice that the newcomers may find useful is to learn at least one new thing everyday. That should help them keep their minds sharp and focused. They need to recognize that they have chosen one of the best countries in the world as their new home. There is no doubt that initially, life will be tough. However, in the long run, things are bound to get better. Once they settle down and succeed in getting their dream job, life will be a lot smoother and enjoyable.
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)