Carolina Estefa Aviles’ first days in Nova Scotia were tough. Living in the small community of Ingramport without a job or a driver’s license, days were long and lonely for the native of Ecuador. But once she contacted Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, at the urging of her Canadian-born husband, life became brighter.
She took part in online Pre-Employment workshops that include help with writing cover letters and resumes, as well as information about working in a new culture, such as employment contracts and taxes. She also received Employment Counselling, took part in the Mentorship program and Excel and Simply Accounting courses.
Carolina searched for work with non-profits as she felt they would be welcoming to immigrants and also because she worked in the non-profit sector in Ecuador. And for over a year now she’s had a challenging and satisfying job as an executive assistant for a non-profit organization. She is happy to finally contribute to the community. “To get paid for helping people is great,” says Carolina, “and to work somewhere you like is good too.”
Becoming involved at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia changed her view of Canadian life. “I wanted to share my testimony and say how much I like Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia. I so appreciate the fact that I can communicate this.” Carolina not only takes courses, but also volunteers at SupperNOVA, the popular multicultural potluck sponsored by Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia and other community groups.
I was relieved I could come here and be myself. I’m really grateful to Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia and I tell people any chance I get!
As a volunteer with a church group in Ecuador, Carolina did community work, often hosting visiting international work teams. This was where she met her husband, Adam, a pharmacist from Nova Scotia. Carolina had earned her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and was thinking about going to London for her Master’s but married and came to Canada in 2011 instead.
“I didn’t know much about Canada, but I knew there was a good lifestyle and quality of life.” She spoke English well as she had attended a bilingual private school. But without work, life here was hard in the beginning. “I was afraid to even answer the phone. And I felt people looked at me in a strange way.”
Carolina says she is now starting to have a more active social life and is meeting new friends. She had been missing her life in Ecuador where every night after work she and her friends would get together for pizza or coffee. She sees Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia as a home of sorts for her where she meets “all kinds of people with all kinds of accents.”
Carolina has also recommended Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia to two friends – both of whom have found work after meeting with Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia counsellors. “I was relieved I could come here and be myself. I’m really grateful to Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia and I tell people any chance I get!”