By Kameel Nasrawi
In August 2016, Antoun Maalouf arrived with his wife Rana and his children to Canada. Only a few months later, Rana Bechara was surprised to receive the “Woman of the Year” Award from the Heritage and Multicultural Council in the city of Welland in Niagara.
Before completing her second year, Rana Bechara was awarded the prize she did not seek and did not expect. It is usually a prize that is awarded to those who spend ten years in the country and it is given as a reaction to the achievements he or she has made in the community service and his or her integration, development and achievement in his or her professional, familial and cultural career success.
In an exclusive interview with “The Migrant”, Rana said “as with all the beginnings of any newcomer, the difficulties were numerous and painstaking. The differences in culture, language, country, traditions and diversity are not easy at all,” She added “when we arrived in Canada, we tried to overcome all the long stages facing any newcomer, we have gone beyond admiration for the country and its beautiful nature, and then began the difficulties of adapting to life, culture and Canada”.
“We did not leave our country, our people, and those we love and come to Canada for tourism, but to settle, build and establish our future and the future of our children here. So, we had to think realistically and work to develop ourselves as much as possible and to understand the way of life and public order in Canada”, said Rana, a French literature graduate from Damascus University.
One month after her arrival in Canada, Rana began studying English at a university in Niagara. She chose the field of business because she has a good experience in her previous job in Syria, where she worked for seven years at Air France and as a sales representative for Italian Airlines.
During this month, she also started looking for a job and found it early to start immediately. She decided to go on volunteering to gain Canadian experience by working and understanding the work culture and the way the Canadian system works. The latter has been a new way for her.
Rana started working as a volunteer at the Francophone Community Health Center and as a nanny’s assistant at a kindergarten in Welland and stayed in the same job for eight consecutive months. She then was hired for a part-time job and then full-time. The new job was neither in her study nor in her previous experience, but she accepted it and worked hard to draw attention to it.
“The Canadians appreciate the work and they do not have the complex that Arabs have for the president and the subordinate. This motivated me more to accept the job. The value of the man here is not his job, but his devotion to his work and his hard work to meet his needs and the needs of his community,” said Rana.
Rana stayed at her job in the morning and afternoon on a daily basis. In her very limited spare time, she continues to develop her skills in training at an aviation office in an attempt to capitalize on her previous experience in this field.
Together with her husband, Anton, whom she describes as “loving and giving,” did not have an opportunity to participate in most of the events in Welland. However, they have recently purchased their new house in the same city.
In last February, Rana received a letter from the Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Center informing her that she had been nominated for the Woman of the Year Award. She was soon informed that she had been selected by the Board for the award for her hard work and commitment to achieve a remarkable integration in the Canadian society. The Council awarded her the commemorative award on March 6 last year as part of a celebration held annually on International Women’s Day.
Rana expresses her joy and happiness getting this prize that she had never expected. She says, “all that my family and I have done was trying to quickly integrate in the society.” Canadians know exactly the difficulties each newcomer faces. They have considered us a model that encourages the newcomer to do the same and they respect the effort we have made to integrate into our new country “.
“What makes me happy in Canada is that there are people and organizations that are well qualified to meet you, help you and take your hand to stand on your feet again and to achieve your own success. The greater proportion of people here are positive people who are trying to raise our morale and do not underestimate our values and fatigue. This is very important and we need it a lot at the beginning of our new life.” Rana added.
Rana believes that this award is “a motivating and an incentive to give more”. Rana thinks “the key to success in Canada is to keep away from the passive people who are trying to frustrate you and push you back,” Rana said. “You have to surround yourself with positive people who hope for a better future.”
As joy has a place in the heart of this dedicated woman who is proud of her Syrian nationality, sadness and distance from those beloved have their place as well. She grew up with a mother and father who taught her how to share her bread with her three sisters in the ancient Damascus where she grew up and spent her most beautiful days. She wishes to share bread and joy again with her parents and sisters.