From Volunteer to Full-Time Language Instructor: Shehnaz’s Journey of Success

Written by Shehnaz, this inspiring story chronicles her journey from arriving in Canada as a newcomer to becoming a full-time Language Instructor. Shehnaz shares her challenges and triumphs, highlighting the invaluable support from the Regina Open Door Society.

We landed in Canada in March 2022 and are now completing two years in this new land, which has become our second home.

Our journey as a family started with the Regina Open Door Society, even before landing here. We didn’t have any friends in this new place, but we were comforted by the SOPA Services we took and received the right orientation before arriving in the land of the living skies.

We touched down on March 25th. For Saskatchewanians, it was spring, but for us, it was the coldest of winters. As I was getting acclimated to the new place, I procrastinated making an appointment with my employment counsellor. After a month, I called Employment Services and booked an online appointment with the counsellor. I met Shanthi Thomas, Employment Counsellor at Employment Services, virtually, and in the first meeting, she gave me the confidence I had lost over the past month. We were from similar backgrounds, both being educators in the Middle East. This meeting rekindled my passion for the profession I had been in since I started working. Before closing the first meeting, she guided me on preparing my resume according to Canadian standards. After a couple of days, she followed up with me, and after I sent her my resume, she modified it. This really helped me prepare for job applications and interviews.

Employment Services at Regina Open Door helped us understand the job market and provided us with excellent services.

Shanthi Thomas recommended that I work as a volunteer at the Language Services. I was called for an interview by the Supervisor of Language Services, Jean Robertson. She welcomed me with warmth and optimism. Within a week, I started volunteering in two classes with the language instructors, Hari Gaire and Cindy, who gave me numerous opportunities to work independently with the students. I am thankful to both of them for offering to provide references for my interviews.

Simultaneously, I started working on obtaining my Teaching License with SPRTB. Though there was a lot of paperwork and an application fee, I pursued every possible course. Employment Services played a pivotal role, and for any queries, Shanthi was just a call away. I wasn’t sure then if teaching in a school would be my long-term goal. Somehow, I was fascinated with working at Regina Open Door, and this led to another step of getting registered as a student at the University of Saskatchewan. Shanthi had completed the CERTESL Program there and directed me to connect with the academic supervisor. Jean Robertson encouraged me to take the course, and when my admission process became complicated, she took extra steps to connect with the University and help me find the right track.

In a month, I was hopeful that things would soon go in the right direction.

A few months later, I was offered the role of a substitute teacher. By fate or serendipity, my first assignment as a substitute teacher was in the same classroom where I currently work as a permanent Language Instructor.

I appeared for my first interview at Regina Open Door. After a week, I had a meeting with Ricardo Arisnabarreta, Manager of Language Services. He gave me feedback, mentored me, and introduced me to the STAR Approach. In a 10-minute meeting, his kindness and compassion made me feel comfortable. He said this is a journey for every newcomer, and I am on the right track, encouraging me to be persistent with what I am doing. His positive words still resonate with me.

I couldn’t have had the confidence to move forward without the support of Tatiana Zotova, Director of Language, Employment, and Child Care, who instilled confidence in me and continues to do so. I feel grateful that today I am a full-time, permanent Language Instructor, starting as a volunteer “just the other day”!

It’s not just my story; it’s every newcomer’s story. As I pen these anecdotes of what success means to me, I remember every word of compassion and all the help I received from the pillars of the Regina Open Door Society.

To conclude, I would like to suggest all newcomers dream, work hard, be persistent, and stay focused. Success is all yours, I bet!