In May of 2009, Calleigh was excited to begin a new life here in Canada. She was full of energy, full of hope, and had high expectations for her future. With her husband at her side, she was confident that her youth and outgoing nature would see her through every challenge. Four years on, Calleigh is again full of energy and hope, but looking back, she can’t quite believe just how many challenges she’s had to face. Would she have still made the decision to leave Korea had she known how difficult things would be?
Calleigh came to Canada on a visitor’s visa while her husband was here working. This meant that she could neither work nor attend post-secondary education. Her plans were to improve her English. Finding an English class that would accept her on a visitor’s permit was difficult but she was relieved when she was able to join classes at Global Gathering Place. She was pregnant at the time, and wasn’t in classes very long before she had to withdraw.
The birth of her son marked a real turning point in Calleigh’s life. The enormous responsibility of motherhood amplified the frustration she felt at not speaking English well. When her son was sick, for example, her inability to be able to talk freely with the health care providers left her with a feeling of helplessness. She could not continue her English classes with a newborn and she hadn’t had time to form the friendships she needed for that all-important support network. She says that she felt isolated and alone and that her personality changed as a result. Her confidence was replaced by fear and her laughter was replaced by tears.
Calleigh, however, managed to turn these challenges into learning opportunities. She made time for careful self-reflection and took some very important lessons to heart. She learned the importance of attitude and the power of positive thought. She learned to stop comparing Canada to Korea. She learned to quit making excuses, she learned to ask questions, and most importantly of all, she learned how to face her fears.
When Calleigh arrived in Canada, her English ability was very low. During her time here, she has transformed herself from someone who struggled to communicate her most basic needs into being someone able to communicate fluently in most situations. She has attended English classes when she could, and has made exceptional use of some simple learning techniques. One such technique is journaling.
Calleigh’s journals are works of art. They contain words of encouragement as well as notes on difficult grammar rules. They chronicle the transformation of her English ability, and describe her thoughts and experiences as she lived them, providing a record of both joys and sorrows. August 3, 2013, was recorded as a day of remarkable joy. In her own words, she wrote:
“The dawn was breaking and the sunrise had started. The whole creation had been waking up from sleep by the intense sunrise. It was amazing, and my sleeping son under the sunrise looked so lovely.”
Calleigh was describing the journey that she took on the very last step on the long, long process of obtaining Permanent Residency. She and her husband crossed the border into the United States as temporary residents of Canada, and immediately crossed back into Canada as Permanent Residents, thus marking another turning point in their lives.
Calleigh’s future is now. She looks forward to completing the process of obtaining her Canadian credentials so that she can work once again in a dental laboratory. There is always more to do, but with her husband at her side, she is confident that her new-found wisdom and outgoing nature will see her through every challenge.