A Mentee Story: Ashwin George

Almost every new immigrant and friends I have met here has had a similar story. We all land in Canada with an optimism that is unparalleled to anything that we have ever had. It is one of life’s biggest risks. To leave our family and loved ones, the comfort and security of our homes, the financial stability and social status we held dear and near – all for a future that is uncertain to say the least. All of us are told and prepped to be ready for a struggle and that it’s a part of life.   However the reality of a struggle is a whole different story. It’s bitter and takes a weird toll. It feeds on your positivity and slowly but steadily breaks your spirit.

That is why organizations like ERIEC are vital not only to Edmonton or Alberta or even to Canada but to every single individual who lives here. That is also one of the reasons why so many of the settled immigrants and citizens are so eager to help cause they have seen this struggle and know this tiresome affair all too well. I got a Basement Suite which ensured the days I was home I was just in my room. I was a social person back home but out here it took everything I had to connect and bond. In fact, I remember I would sometimes go for days at end without even uttering a word or seeing another person.  When you add the current state of the economy and the Canadian winter to the equation it was than just a struggle. I got a job as a late night server thanks to the folks at my Church. It helped me pay my rent, buy a car (a few months later) and yes survive.

That’s what they call it a Survival Job – for me it was more than a survival job – It was God taking care of me. The basement I moved into didn’t have a kitchen provision so I would literally wait a whole day to get to work to eat. I was also advised that a local education and certifications are a must to get a job. So I had started a course at NAIT too. So my usual weekly schedule would go like this – Wednesday and Sunday evenings, I would work as a Late Night Server from 10 pm to 6 am; on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I would go to school from the afternoon to evening – often going to work straight from school. I took the minimum required courses to be eligible to be a full time student to avail a student loan because frankly I didn’t have the funds to do it on my own. If you ask me, “When did you sleep?” – I will not lie it was usually Mondays and when I traveled on the ETS. I am no stranger to travelling for long distance for work or commute, but here in Canada a simple 10 min distance by car was equivalent to a 40-miniute ride by public transport and you had to account to basically everything from bus frequency to walking distance to the nearest bus stop and something I discovered the hard way walking in the cold. Though I know the winter of 2015 was mild by Edmonton’s standards but for someone from a tropical country it was a different affair altogether!

Things started turning around when I received my license and bought a car from a blessed person from my church who literally sold it to me dirt cheap as he knew of my plight. Suddenly I got few additional hours in my life which gave way to an open slot for the ERIEC mentorship program.

Undeterred and motivated I met my amazing Mentor who told me directly – “The Job You want – wants you to want it”. He showed me why I never received any replies or any responses to my countless applications. He would not scold me if I didn’t apply for a job but it was evident I needed to push my limits. He motivated me and went out of his way to adjust his busy schedule because I would come up with crazy ideas like, driving to Fort Saskatchewan to drop resumes or attending seminars in Leduc in order to socialize. I remember convincing friends to drive me around while I would just drop resumes randomly at different organizations. He showed me rather than “shooting in the dark”, it was better to shoot beacons so that I could light up my way! From mock drills and interviews, to critiquing my posture and my business appearance, to even a punctuation mark on my resume – my mentor ensured that there was no stone unturned.

Simply put, if it’s darkest before the dawn, I had to ensure my life got a bit darker before a dawn was ready to break open for me. Sure enough, I stand here today as a success story – This is however just the beginning and there is something even better around the corner. However, the moral of my story so far is never, ever be complacent because if you are, you will have lost that battle before it begins. I hope my story is an inspiration to you all and remember to have faith and never ever give up on your dreams. There is a quote that kept me going from the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – “And, when you want something, all the universe will conspires in helping you get it.” ERIEC is one such universe in my life.

I am so glad to be a part of ERIEC and to have gotten to know so many of you. I shall always be grateful to ERIEC for giving me that push I needed.

Thank you guys! Keep up the good work!

Ashwin George