Ask any immigrant what they felt like when moving to Canada and most likely they will say it was excitement and anticipation combined with fear and uncertainty. When everything around you is new and unfamiliar, including the language and the culture, it can take some time to understand your new environment and adjust.
Close your eyes and imagine being in a different country and city and trying to build a whole new life. You are now experiencing what an immigrant feels like.
So what can you do to make your immigrant neighbour’s experience of London more positive? Introducing yourself is the first step. A simple step, yes, but newcomers will feel much more welcome if neighbours are friendly and approachable. Is there information that you can give them on the neighbourhood that will make it easier for them to settle in? Are there community activities that they can join in? Having a sense of community and belonging is vital for anyone wanting to put down roots.
The cultural exchange goes both ways. Listen to their stories, what made them come to Canada and to London? You will be surprised at how much you will learn not just about their culture but about your own city because you will see it through the eyes of a newcomer. Take downtown London for instance. What’s so interesting about it, you ask? A newcomer who moves here from a big city will probably tell you that they find the historic buildings and lack of skyscrapers downtown, charming and unique. A different perspective can be very refreshing!
As you talk to your new neighbours, you will find that all of us share the same hopes and aspirations for ourselves and our families, regardless of which part of the globe we come from. Our external appearances maybe different but we are all tied together by the shared thread of humanity.
By: Huda Hussein, London Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership, Project Coordinator