For Pearl Sanasen, immigrating to Canada was a long-term goal, one that she and her husband Alex, worked at for thirteen years before making it a reality.
They sought educational opportunities and skills training, they scrimped and saved and they both worked diligently to achieve their goal. They made their dreams come true, but even though Kelowna is home now, Pearl’s journey hasn’t been without its challenges and hardships, said a news release from Kelowna Community Resources.
After years of preparing and planning, Pearl and Alex were accepted into the skilled worker’s program and allowed to immigrate. As an engineer and software developer, Alex, wanted to work in the high-tech industry so he came first in 2013, to look for a job and help them get established in Canada.
Pearl has a Master’s Degree in Finance and had a well-paying job in Thailand, so she stayed behind initially, but they soon found they needed to be together to support each other, and Pearl sold their home and car in Thailand and joined Alex. Starting in Vancouver, a job opportunity for Alex quickly brought them to Kelowna but for Pearl it was difficult.
“In Thailand, I worked with an organization that helped refugees relocate and integrate into their new communities, so I was very well aware of the challenges immigrants face and I was prepared, but I had a reality check,” she said. “I used to have a good paying job, I used to be somebody in the organization, and now here I was nobody. I felt so alone, especially when Alex was at work.”
“I needed more and I searched for opportunities,” she said. “I found KCR – Community Resources and I attended every single workshop to get myself focused. I did everything to be involved and then I started to volunteer.”
Through her volunteer efforts, Pearl made connections and was able to get local references and landed her first two jobs in Canada. Unfortunately, with one employer, Pearl felt harassed and mocked. “It was a good paying job, but I was so unhappy. They made fun of my accent, made me feel like I was not good at my job and dismissed my input. I felt like an alien.”
“As a newcomer, you don’t feel the confidence to express yourself, especially if you need the job and speaking up can jeopardize that job.” She eventually did stand up for herself and left her employment, although it meant starting over again.
“I went back to KCR, I read books, I did everything I could to get my confidence back,” she said. Her efforts payed off and she got a temporary job at Elections BC that she loved and where she felt recognized for her efforts.
Now she loves her job at Maximus WorkBC as a case management assistant. She also works part-time with two immigration companies to help participants settle in the area and then runs her own jewellery business that feeds her creative needs and allows her to express her Thai culture.
She is active and giving back as a Mentor at KCR – Community Resources, helping other immigrants, through their journey.
“I want my story to inspire others – immigrants have so many skills and so much potential to bring to Canada. It is easy to lose your confidence and self-esteem because there are so many struggles, but they have so much to share.”
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