Maria is currently a client at Skills for Change. In October 2018, she enrolled in the Skills for Change’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) course to improve her English language skills. She’s a newcomer who was born in Venezuela and arrived in Canada two years ago with her husband and her four-year-old son.
Maria discovered Skills for Change after going to a gym in the neighbourhood. By happenstance, she was also redirected to Skills for Change by YMCA after attending classes there. Soon, Maria started her LINC courses and found herself developing a great connection with Tetyana, one of her instructors.
Maria is a highly creative and a social person. She loves social media, graphic design, and content writing, but she’s also interested in psychology and how it connects these creative mediums together.
“I think it’s a good combination,” she says, “You can apply psychology and marketing to basically everything.”
Her fascination with psychology began while she was working as a criminal lawyer in her home country of Venezuela. Maria was a practicing lawyer for three years before she moved her family to Canada. She’s decided not to pursue law here, and instead, she’s more interested in pursuing a new career where she can promote her creativity and social skills.
“I am a people’s person,” she tells us, laughing, “I am good at all the legal processes, sure, but I am at my best when I’m working with people. That’s what I am passionate about! I’d like to work with people in a different way.”
Maria was very open with us about the dangers and challenges of living in Venezuela over the past few politically tumultuous years.
“It has become worse. When I was a child, we could go wherever we wanted as a family. But now it’s not possible. It is very hard. It is tough. You can’t just walk in the streets or go to the supermarket. We lived under a dictatorship. They have control over everything from food to medicine to gas. And so there’s violence because of that. But you cannot protest because they put you in jail.”
Her parents are still living in Venezuela, which is difficult for her, especially since she can’t be with them to ensure their safety.
“I try to help them there, but it is hard. I am always worried about them. Sometimes the power is out for two days at a time and I don’t know what’s happening.”
Fortunately, Maria is now able to feel at home and safe with her family in Canada. Two of her sisters had arrived in Canada before her.
Maria tells us that she feels comfortable in Toronto and that she and her family frequently enjoy discovering new sushi restaurants all around the city.
“Here in Canada, I feel free. I feel welcome. When I walk with my son in the streets here. I feel safe.”