Newcomer Story: Zainab (Jeny) Ghulam Rasool

Zainab2 “Leaving behind our loved ones was not an easy task. But with the understanding of the seniors in our family, we made the decision to move to Canada,” Zainab said. The Rasool family chose to move to Canada from Pakistan for safety and security. They saw that it is a country where residents benefit from services and are given many opportunities for growth. Most importantly, as parents of three children, Zainab and her husband were looking for a place where they can provide the best education and quality of life for their kids. With the urging of their close friends who have settled in Winnipeg, they made plans to immigrate. In April 2012, Zainab and her six-year-old daughter arrived in Winnipeg.

Today, with her entire family now settled in Manitoba, Zainab is happy to see her kids thriving. Her two older children are currently enrolled at the University of Manitoba, and her youngest child, who is in grade five, is studying at a French immersion school.

“I decided to learn with EO because I am a homemaker and because I was already facing the challenges of weather, culture, and lifestyle. Being online was convenient, easily accessible and flexible. Honestly speaking, at that time, I did not have good computer skills but the EO staff helped me understand the whole system.”

Understanding Manitobans

Zainab recalls that in her first few days in Winnipeg, she had to adjust to the weather, language, and culture. However, she said that “the greatest challenge for me was understanding the accent of Manitobans and how to communicate.”

To help remedy this, she started looking for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Zainab took a CLB test at WELARC and learned about her options. She chose to register with English Online (EO) mainly for convenience. “I decided to learn with EO because I am a homemaker and because I was already facing the challenges of weather, culture, and lifestyle. Studying online was convenient, easily accessible and flexible. Honestly speaking, at that time, I did not have good computer skills but the EO staff helped me understand the whole system,” Zainab said.

Building confidence

At first, Zainab concentrated on improving her English language skills. Eventually, she took courses on improving computer skills, resume and cover letter preparation, and job interview preparation.

“There are so many reasons to like the EO program,” Zainab gushes. “Its system is simple, the facilitators are friendly, and you can interact with people from different origins, nationalities. Through EO, you can sit at home and get valuable knowledge. EO has helped increase my confidence. Now I can communicate in English confidently, without hesitation. EO has also helped me improve my email writing skills and my way of sharing new ideas and information.”

“It will not be justified if I do not praise respected e-facilitators Blaine Roberts, Iwona, Stephanie Stetefeld, and Yulia because of their patience, positive attitude, and friendly way of teaching. Erum Imran and Blaine are working hard to make all of us autonomous learners. I am also in close contact with e-volunteer coordinator, Tatiana who is always there ready to help everyone,” Zainab said.

To date, Zainab has become one of EO’s most loyal learners. She has been with EO for almost four years now and continues to sign up for learning activities. Six months ago, her involvement with the organization reached a new level when she signed up as a settlement e-volunteer. Volunteering with EO affords her the opportunity to share her experience with newcomers and practice what she does best – help others. Zainab was a counsellor for women in her community back when she was in Pakistan.

“Based on my experience, having proper information is the best tool to solve a problem. I advise newcomers to know more about Manitoba – the lifestyle, weather, culture, system, and others. They should not hesitate nor feel shy about asking for information. EO is one of the best sources of settlement information and guidance. I advise newcomers to register with EO and avail of the free service”, Zainab said.

A dream come true

With her communication skills continuing to flourish, Zainab took a big step towards realizing a dream. In January 2015, she enrolled in a Certificate Program in Applied Counselling at the University of Manitoba.

Zainab, who has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, had always wanted to pursue further studies. This was not possible in her home country as advanced studies were not easily accessible to everyone. Last year, while attending a seminar at Manitoba Start, she met a representative from the University of Manitoba who advised her to enroll in the program. Today, she is well on her way to becoming a certified counsellor. “I am hopeful that I will get my certification in 2017. Then I will be a ‘certified counsellor’. That day will mark a great achievement in my life,” Zainab said.

In the meantime, she continues to study and volunteer with EO as she completes her program at the U of M. But as early as now, she has set her sights on ways to give back to the community the best way she can. Zainab is planning to volunteer as a counsellor in various agencies after she acquires her certification. “My future plan is to serve the Manitoban community as a certified counsellor. They are my people,” Zainab said.