Stylist grateful for free ESL lessons and for help obtaining licence
This is the fifth profile in a series highlighting some of the Hamilton area’s successful immigrants.
Name: Mari Yegorgorji
Country of origin: Originally from Iran but lived in Turkey before migrating to Canada
Came to Canada: June 2011
Describe your work:
I am the proprietor of Safora Unisex Hair & Beauty salon (http://on.fb.me/1nDvOIr), where I provide a wide array of hair care and aesthetic services.
What brought you to Hamilton?
My husband, my daughter and I moved to Canada for a better life. My sister has lived in Hamilton for almost 20 years and she told us that it is a nice city to live.
What skills, experience, business knowledge, and global connections did you bring to Hamilton?
I have 15 years of experience working as a hairstylist in Turkey.
What has helped you settle in Hamilton?
My sister in Hamilton helped my family to settle. When I first arrived in Hamilton, I approached the Immigrant Women Center (IWC). They helped me with my resumé as well as my husband’s resumé. My settlement worker, Rosemary, at the IWC helped me with the paperwork for my hairdresser’s license
I attended English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at the Red Hill Learning Centre, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. My teachers were very supportive. In fact, my ESL teacher, Catherine, presented me with the preparatory book for the hairdresser’s license exam.
First and foremost language skills. I did not speak English when I came to Canada
Can you describe a moment or experience when you felt successful, since your arrival in Hamilton?
When I got my license as a hairdresser last summer. I attempted the hairdresser’s license exam after four months of my arrival in Canada but was unable to pass. I studied for the exam from the book that my ESL teacher had given me and passed it on the second attempt.
What is your favourite place in Hamilton?
Red Hill Learning Centre, where I attended ESL classes, because they helped me acquire an essential skill for life in Canada.
One thing you really like about Hamilton.
I like the people here. They are so nice, friendly and helpful.
What surprised you about living here?
I was surprised to find out that newcomers have access to free language training classes. I thought we would have to pay to learn English. I was also surprised to find that free health care is available to all residents.
What advice do you have for people who are new to Hamilton?
Get help through settlement agencies that are in place by the government to help newcomers. Attend ESL classes to improve language skills and get a part-time job at the same time. That way, you will gain Canadian work experience and acquire language skills. I do come across people who say that life is so hard and we can’t do anything here. I don’t think that is true. If people want, they can do anything here.
* This article was originally published in The Hamilton Spectator and has been republished with permission.
** This series is a joint initiative of the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council, Workforce Planning Hamilton and the City of Hamilton’s Immigrant Attraction Action Plan.