Anita came to Canada from West Africa in 2011 to study at the University of Moncton. When she arrived, everything was different—the slang, the accent, the habits, the food—it was a big adjustment for her.
Though Anita spoke French, she had to make a considerable effort to understand the Canadian dialect and to be understood herself. She was also used to addressing teachers, superiors at work and older colleagues in a more formal manner, which seemed out of place here.
Anita had to learn a lot in her first few years and now gives back by mentoring university students from West Africa. Anita counsels them through their journey and helps them adjust to life in Canada.
Canada is renowned for the quality of the education offered at the college and university level, so in Burkina Faso, my home country, we have a great interest in Canadian education. My older brother and cousin came to Moncton before me—that motivated me too.
When I arrived here, I had culture shock. It took me some time to get used to the Canadian accent and people here had a hard time understanding my accent—we speak very quickly. I also had to remember that people here say “allô” and shake hands instead of the “bonjour” that I usually use. Back home, we rarely say hello by shaking hands. I eventually adapted to the norms here, but it wasn’t an easy start.
I have always wanted to be involved in community welfare and give back, so when I had the opportunity to join the Association of Burkinabés of Moncton (ABMON), I took it. Some of the activities we’re involved in annually include raising awareness on International Women’s Day, discuss the problems faced by our members, particularly students, to provide them with the necessary support (employment assistance and administrative assistance). We also introduce the newcomers to the Burkinabé community through social gatherings.
By sharing my experience, I’m able to help students who are facing the same struggles that I did when I first came to Canada. If we want to see international students adapt and succeed, we need to help them integrate into society faster and allow them to focus on their studies. I, myself, have benefited from the mentoring experience. It has taught me a lot about empathy and leadership.