In honor of International Women’s Day celebration, this story is part of an Instagram series that highlights the stories and voices of women who inspire us with their determination, strength, and bravery. Martha’s journey is one of them.
When asked what her first words would be to an immigrant woman arriving
in Canada for the first time, Martha jokingly answered, “Welcome to Canada! Do you know how to speak English?” However, beneath the humor lies one of Martha’s most significant challenges since arriving in the country: the language barrier.
Eager to start a new life but aware of the obstacles ahead, Martha arrived in Canada four years ago with her daughter, leaving behind her home, sister, and mother in Colombia. When she first arrived, she couldn’t understand a word of English. Although she is taking classes to improve her language skills, she admits that she still has a long way to go. Despite this, Martha has found ways to communicate.
Resourcefulness might as well be her middle name, as she uses her cellphone as a translator when speaking with people or asks friends to translate her medical appointments over the phone in real-time, when possible. Despite the language barrier, Martha has managed to thrive in her new home.
Martha is not defined by her relationship with English; instead, she is defined by her adventurous nature and passion for the environment. To her, Canada represents “the land of the unimaginable”, a place full of endless possibilities, filled with new experiences, cultures, landscapes, different weather, and more.
That’s why she took on the challenge of mastering Hamilton’s public transportation system without the help of Google Maps – relying instead on her fearless nature, sharp sense of direction, and trusty notebook to guide her.
As a result, she has become an expert on all the city’s bus routes. It could be said that she can take you on a tour of all Hamilton bus routes with her eyes closed.
Martha’s advice to newcomers is to embrace the opportunity to explore the city without fear of getting lost, as she says, “you are not lost, just delayed, have patience because the bus system will always bring you back to a central location such as MacNab Station, where you can start again.”
As part of her journey as a newcomer to Canada, and as an answer to her passion for the environment, Martha has started an initiative with her daughter to pick up litter in local parks. They hope to turn this project into a sustainable program and invite others to join in their efforts.
Martha’s story is a testament to the power of exploration, curiosity, and passion. Her story and way of life encourages other newcomers to embrace new experiences, fearlessly explore, and seek for opportunities to make a positive impact in their communities.
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