Spirit of volunteerism is a virtue for immigrants in Canada

posted on September 13, 2014

By Jagdish Pathak, The Times of India | Link to Article

By Jagdish Pathak, The Times of India | Link to Article

The day one lands as an immigrant in Canada, a dreamy situation starts developing. Clean roads, 24/7 electricity, homes with hot/cold water, a clean environment with hardly any noise of blaring horns make people dream – particularly, if they are migrating from developing nations like India. Nations like US or Canada are not developed in a day or two. People live here for generations and those who came here as first immigrants are now in fourth or fifth generation. These immigrants organically grew with the developments here. They carried a high level of zeal to volunteer. If you ask any Canadian who is here for the last 3-4 generations about being a volunteer, they will appreciate your efforts and let you know how good it is for the growth of Canadian society. Helping each other by whatever means possible with no expectations of being repaid is a desire to volunteer.

The concept of volunteerism is ingrained in the life of a Canadian. Even to graduate from a high school (we call it graduation if you pass high school here), you have to do some voluntary work. Every graduate student needs to complete a certain number of volunteer job hours logged. As a result, many students, by the time they complete undergraduate degree, accumulate volunteer hours in thousands. These volunteer hours help them in proving to the employers and others the usefulness of their time spent. Immigrants from India or likewise developing nations coming here carry no concept of acting as a volunteer. Such attitude results into looking at every volunteer opportunity with a disdain. This attitude affects their potential of obtaining a meaningful employment here. Remember a volunteer experience reflects that you are a capable communicator with the local public and that you are a trustworthy and responsible individual.

My suggestion to every immigrant or a potential immigrant to countries like US, Canada, Australia is: “Please be patient to start with a life outside your own environment. Start with volunteer activities and develop a network of people.” Volunteer activities need not be in the field of expertise or experience as it will be difficult to come by. Search for all and every volunteer activity by letting volunteer organizations know that you want to be volunteer for them. Do not try to do short cuts in this great nation-building act but work wholeheartedly. Your volunteer acts will help you assimilate in the new society and its people. Think before being critical as in the developed society people do not tend to criticize at the drop of a hat. I have often noticed that people coming from India and similar background countries carry a proud feeling about their culture, attitudes, and way of living. Surely, they have right to be proud of own background and culture. However, do not start commenting and criticizing local customs and traditions. People love them and if they hear you speaking ill about their culture, impressions will be very negative. You will lose more friends than what you might think.

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