For the past few years off and on I’ve been working at a place called Alberta Business and Educational Services (ABES) in North East Calgary.
They have a program aimed at helping doctors from other cultures integrate into the health industry here. I think it’s a sad and somewhat outrageous situation, we let these intelligent and talented people into Canada because they are doctors, and then we tell them they can’t practice here. I suppose the argument goes, well, some of them are from the third world, we don’t know how good their education was there. Tell that to a former student, Dr. Rau, who was an orthopedic surgeon in India, and who went to Nottingham in England to do post doctorate work in sports medicine. He became the head of the sports medicine clinic there. He then came to Canada, where he could only find a job stacking apples at Safeway for $9.00 an hour. Meanwhile, we have an acute shortage of doctors here. Go figure.
In the past few years, I have taught people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines, Singapore, Belarus, Slovakia, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakstan, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Israel, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, The Congo, Guinea. Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba, Columbia, even Australia — I’m probably forgetting a few but that will give you a sense of the international flavour of my classes.
It’s not ESL per se. It about helping them understand language well enough so they can have the best experience possible in their new country.
Most of them have given up very prestigious and lucrative careers (mansions, maids, the whole nine yards) to come to Canada because they perceive that their children can have a better future here. All I try to do is make them feel welcome and give them the skills to get a foot in the door in the health industry. Most of them will never be doctors here. The current system makes it too hard and too expensive for them to pursue accreditation. But most of them, I believe, will have a good life here. And their children will in fact have opportunities here that they never would have had back home.
So, after a few glorious months of working on my new play, riding the bike paths, hanging out at Caffe Beano, reading Italian mystery novels (Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series) it’s back to work for me this morning. I don’t like the idea of it, clearly I should have been born wealthy, not just rich but WEALTHY, but I like the work and I love the students and it’s not so bad at the end of the month when they pay me.
Hi ho . . . .