I moved to Canada in January 2022 as a new university graduate ready to take the world by storm and fulfill the career success dreams I was sold. It was not long before I started learning to redefine success. In my search to start a career, it was difficult to define what meaningful work was and simultaneously worry about finances. I found myself in a strange spot with a desire to do meaningful work but having a hard time finding a job that fit that.
In March, there was an announcement by the Winnipeg Chapter of HOPE worldwide Canada about the opportunity to volunteer in an English Conversation Club (ECC). The idea was simple, give people who are new to Canada the opportunity to practice their English to gain confidence. The reason such a simple idea meant so much for me was because it connected with my life since 2020.
In 2020, I became interested in foreign languages. I tried to learn Japanese but quickly gave up and moved to French and later on to Spanish. As I learned, I was able to make so many meaningful connections to people who spoke those languages. Living in the United States, Spanish was the second language and I had encountered people who spoke it natively and struggled to communicate with them. I often left conversations embarrassed when I tried to speak other languages. On top of that, while searching for work, I saw the strong requirements for English communication and how many doors open up to people with this ability. Being Nigerian, I am an anglophone and so I have the privilege of being able to communicate in English and before 2020, I didn’t give it much thought. Language is a necessity for humans just as is food and clothing. I learned that it is more than words. It is meaning and connection.
When English Conversation Club came around in April, I decided it would be a waste of my experience over the past two years if I did not volunteer. I signed up. As an English native, I had to learn what was best for people learning this language. Hearing first hand how ECC helped them at work and in their lives and seeing people smile reminded me of the feeling I had when I held a good French conversation with a stranger. The feeling was along the lines of “Wow, I’m actually learning!” and it is nothing short of satisfying. This is the feeling that I was able to help someone else have. People were gracious and patient with me in my learning I could do that for someone else. I could love because I had been shown love first and HOPE worldwide Canada gave me the opportunity to do that.