BC AS CAN BE
I just recently took a trip back to Capilano University, a year and a half ago after completing three months of studies under the Business and Culture for Foreign Trained Professionals (BCFTP) program. I was invited by Leslie Kozak, the manager of CapU’s Continuing Education Program to speak to the present batch of BCFTP participants about my experiences as a new immigrant.
The early morning promised a bright, rainless day as I walked briskly to the bus stop to catch the no. 22 bus that would take me to 41st Avenue and Knight, where I would transfer to bus 41 headed for Joyce Station and then take bus 130 to CapU at North Vancouver. This was a new route I’ve discovered which hopefully would cut my commuting time. In the past, when I was a full time student, it always took me an hour and a half to commute to CapU, dreading the incline from Purcell Way (when I was not lucky enough to have caught Bus 239 that stops right at CapU entrance) up to the university entrance which I hiked for a good 5 minutes. By the time I rounded the third floors stairs to our classroom, I would be red in the face and a little out of breath and thankful that I beat the 9 am class opening with a minute or two to freshen up in the washroom.
That Monday morning in Les’ class, I sat down from across Timi, a fellow lawyer from the Philippines, now a budding entrepreneur/importer in BC, who was my classmate at the first BCFTP class and whom Les also asked to speak to the class that morning. We listened to a Nepalese student’s presentation of non-violent communication and how it can improve relationships. He had some of the participants act out confrontational situations to demonstrate how expressing our observations, feelings and needs and making a request instead of demands can set the tone for a better understanding and connection. He came to class complete with props of animal head bands which Les and Noel, a Filipino student and a new immigrant gamely wore as shown on the photos.
The first BCFTP class that I attended in October 2011, less than a month after landing in Canada was under the Employment Skills Access program, a 12-week fulltime intensive course that provided new immigrants with Canadian business perspectives and an understanding of the Canadian workplace. On top of that, it trained participants on Microsoft office and basic accounting; gave out World Host and First aid certificates which were great for resume building. The best thing of all was that it was absolutely free and still is. Since then, the indefatigable and highly articulate Les has rolled out several BCFTP classes. I learned the present class is fortunate to have a project management course included in the program after which the participants would be ready to sit for the project management certification exam and it now has a practicum component for that needed Canadian work experience.
The class which was a mix of new immigrants from Iran, Pakistan. China and Rumania, among others, was eager to know about starting a business in Canada and Timi was delighted to give more information on his dried fruit snack business. The question for me that I remember best was how I might do things differently as an immigration consultant. My take was that you should know where your niche is, who your potential market is and take care of your clients because if you do, the business will build itself.
I certainly took something away from that brief visit, most of which was a reminder of how it was to be excited about going back to school and embracing what Canada had to offer. A lot of things still excite me and this journey is still unfolding.
New immigrant interested in Capilano University’s Business and Culture for Foreign-trained Professionals should check out http://www.capilanou.ca/ce/esa/#BCFTP.