Building Bridges is a program offered by PIRS that aims to provide immigrant women with the skills for their future career plans. Aliia shares her start at a place of apprehension and disadvantages, and how she developed her skills at PIRS. Beyond the practical developments to job training and language, Aliia also found a community:
“Moving from one country to another is a big challenge. Moreover, a challenge can be worse if it is a country with a different culture. It was what my family and I met.
First of all, it was a language barrier. I even forgot what I knew. I was trying to find an interpreter who can translate everything for me. However, in my luck I found English classes at Vancouver Community College, I started learning English as a second language and my life became better. Secondly, money had run out. I was looking for a job which was hard to find. I got a part-time job, but I have three kids and that money wasn’t enough for us. If I continue more about my difficulties at that time, a few more pages of papers will not be enough for me.
One day, I saw a poster about Housekeeping Program. That program was organized by Pacific Immigration Resources Society (PIRS). I took that program. During the practicum, I got a job. I was so grateful to PIRS because they prepared me very well. Even my mock interview I had there. After that, I attended the Building Bridges Program. It was a place with a certain amount of women of different ages and interests.
We were all from different countries. However, we had the same goal. It was how to assimilate and help other people in Canada. At Building Bridges which was also organized by PIRS, we discussed different themes. We shared our knowledge and experiences. The relationship between participants was friendly. The atmosphere was warm and special. I got confidence and leadership skills at that program. The big help was from the people who worked at that organization (PIRS). Organization and management from them were amazing. They did their job perfectly. I am so grateful for them and I hope they will continue their mission.”
Aliia’s story shows the many barriers immigrant women face when settling into life in Vancouver. On top of the concrete challenges surrounding language and employment, her story shows how the stress surrounding all of this is a challenge all by itself. Her experience with Building Bridges helped shape one of the main learning outcomes this program offers: expressing yourself and building your voice. In continuing our mission to empower immigrant and refugee women, we offer such programs to make this vision into reality.