Maureen came to Canada in 2016, from Rwanda. In Maureen’s words, “Canada is a nice country, and they are so protective… it is not an easy thing to get their visa. I am glad that they allow me. It was a long process and lots of waiting!”

When she arrived, there was snow on the ground, and it seemed very cold, yet everyone said she had missed the worst winter weather! Still, Maureen got a kick out of wearing long, tall, winter boots, something you never saw in Rwanda. And when summer rolled around, seeing the light still in the sky at 10 PM was a big surprise, unlike anything she’d ever seen. The surprises continued this fall, when the leaves began to change colour. Maureen now says that she likes the cycles of the seasons, and the beauty of seeing nature come back to life in the spring.

The seasons and weather are not the only difference between Canada and Rwanda. Maureen says that back home, fresh tropical fruit is the easiest, cheapest thing you can buy, while processed foods are more of a luxury. Here it’s the opposite—if you can find fresh tropical fruit at all. She has also noticed that in Canada, people pay much more attention to the time when making plans and going about their day. In Rwanda, time is secondary: “What’s more important is the event itself.” Reflecting on this, Maureen says that the Canadian lifestyle has made her realize how much can be accomplished in a day, but at the same time, in her culture “they finish the project very happy and peaceful.”

Maureen has been learning new things every day in Canada. She regularly attends Coffee and Conversation at Global Gathering Place, which has been “a great opportunity to hear their stories (and) learn a little of the culture, which helps me to increase my understanding/ knowledge of how to respect and appreciate other peoples’ belief and values.” She also took our Computers Level 2 course, and obtained her CELPIP certificate.

Today Maureen is taking steps toward her dreams for the future. She hopes to attend university soon to study commerce, through which she believes she can make a positive impact in people’s lives. She already owned a successful small business—when she was in high school! —providing basic goods to students. Maureen says, “I love helping people. It makes me feel like a better person when I can make someone smile or feel special… when I was younger, I did see many people mistreated.” She wants to give back as much as possible, and is influenced by her grandfather, who always said that, “People may forget what you achieved, but will remember how you made them feel.”