Newcomer Story: Mithula Raveendran

Mithula RaveendranWe are proud to feature the first graduate of our revitalized e-Volunteer program, Mithula Raveendran.

Mithula was paired with a Settlement Coach and received 20 hours of coaching (undertaken in a span of 10 weeks). She was mentored on various settlement concerns, particularly on establishing a new career in Manitoba, which is her priority. It’s worth noting that Mithula went through the program while enrolled in LINC Home Study with English Online (EO). The program’s flexible schedule allowed her to continue honing her English language skills while learning about her life and career options.

A new life in Winnipeg

Mithula arrived in Manitoba in April 2020 to join her husband who was already living in Winnipeg. She relates that they got married two years ago in their home country, Sri Lanka, exactly a day before COVID-19 started.

COVID-19 would continue to be a shadow over her first few months of settlement in Manitoba. Pandemic restrictions meant that she couldn’t go anywhere, much less attend the usual orientation courses most newcomers start with. She couldn’t even visit the Hindu temple near their place as most establishments that hold indoor group gatherings were closed at that time. She spent her days mostly at home handling household chores.

After about six months, Mithula got a job and started working at a local 7/11 convenience store. This widened her exposure, but she was still cautious since the pandemic isn’t over yet. Then, after a few months, she got pregnant. She gave birth to their first child in August last year.

“Before, I did not speak proper English. Now my speaking skills have improved a little bit with help from her (referring to her LINC instructor, Ruxandra). She was very helpful in improving my English knowledge. I got CLB benchmark 4 then I joined LINC. It became CLB 5.”

Making up for lost time

Prior to giving birth, Mithula had already been attending language classes at Manitoba Start. She loved the classes there, but now that she has a newborn baby to take care of, she couldn’t attend anymore. It’s a good thing that the kind folks at Manitoba Start referred her to EO. Mithula signed up for LINC Home Study at EO which allowed her to receive online language training with a TESL-accredited instructor in the comfort of her home.

“Before, I did not speak proper English. Now my speaking skills have improved a little bit with help from her,” Mithula said, referring to her LINC instructor, Ruxandra. “She was very helpful in improving my English knowledge. I got CLB benchmark 4 then I joined LINC. It became CLB 5,” Mithula added.

Later on, she learned about the e-volunteer Program at EO and thought that it would be a good opportunity to catch up on her settlement orientation. Upon signing up, she was paired with one of EO’s most dynamic volunteers, Ellen Min Chen, who is also an EO learner (read her article here).

“Mithula was a bit apprehensive the first time we met. But later on, she took a keen interest in everything we talked about,” Ellen said. “She asked specific questions about researching employment opportunities. She also asked about government assistance, and programs she could apply to that were less costly,” she said.

“As we continued our sessions, Mithula was happy, relaxed and more confident than when we started. I found her very receptive,” Ellen added.

Mithula is equally as excited about her experience. “Ellen explained many things about Canadian culture. She also taught me how to make a LinkedIn bio, and how to apply for courses and jobs. I learned a lot from Ellen,” Mithula said.

To celebrate the end of their coaching sessions, the two met in person for bubble tea. However, it looks like they are sustaining the relationship and continuing to communicate. Ellen recently informed us that Mithula invited her to her son’s first birthday party. “I met some of her family and tried traditional Sri Lankan food,” Ellen said.

Future plans

Mithula celebrated another milestone recently which she was excited to share. Her latest language assessment showed that she has reached CLB 6. Aside from indicating that her English proficiency is continually improving, it also meant that she is now qualified to enroll in a Health Care Aide course.

Before coming Canada, Mithula worked as an accountant for a finance company in Sri Lanka. But since her occupation is regulated here, she knows that the journey towards achieving her CPA designation would take a considerable amount of time, money and effort, so she decided to shift to health care.

Needless to say, it’s a major shift, so it’s a good thing that Ellen was also able to coach her through the process. She helped Mithula weigh her options and decide where to enroll. “Ellen was very helpful. We talked about which college is better, and about cost,” Mithula said.

But while she’s making a practical choice, Mithula is not giving up on accountancy. “Maybe in four to five years, I will get my accounting certificate,” she said.

Until then, Mithula continues to work on improving her English and getting ready for a new career path. Slowly but surely, she is growing and thriving because of her hard work and with the help of a growing circle of supportive connections in her new home.