At Anderson College, we are constantly amazed by the courage of our students, faculty, and staff. In December 2021 we ran a “My Courageous Moment” story-gathering campaign to celebrate our students, their strength, the moments that have defined their lives and the people who have motivated them to overcome and succeed.
In sharing our stories, we realize we are not alone and are often inspired to recognize, or to find, our own extraordinary courage. We hope the following story moves you, as it has our Anderson family.
My name is Biljana Ognenova, a former resident of Macedonia. This passage is about the bravest thing I have done. My bravest moment was moving to Canada. Moving was emotional, and a big challenge, but not just for me. The decision to move was made by me and my husband soon after we got married in 2007. We wanted to start a new life in Canada, a better life for the both of us.
“My bravest moment was moving to Canada. Moving was emotional, and a big challenge, but not just for me.”
Saying goodbye to all my friends and family was very difficult and sorrowful. It was the same for my husband, except the only difference was that his mother had already been in Canada for four years, and that made things just a bit easier for him. I will never forget when we were at the airport, saying goodbye to my family; everyone had tears in their eyes.
When we arrived in Canada, my husband’s mother was waiting for us at the airport, and she took us to our temporary home. She was very nice, and I already felt like she was my second mom, but I still missed everyone for a long time after that. Our temporary home was at our aunt’s house because we didn’t have enough money to buy a house yet.
“I didn’t speak English at all, so after a couple of months in Canada I started to go to English classes.”
My first job was cleaning offices, and my husband’s first job was as a security guard. I didn’t speak English at all, so after a couple of months in Canada I started to go to English classes. I didn’t enjoy my English classes very much because I was too shy to speak. In the end, I gave up on those classes for two years. During that time, I was able to reflect on my mistake. I realized that I needed to speak English because it would make everything easier for me.
I started the classes again and continued them for three years. I attended in the morning and worked in the evening. Also, just by living in Canada I was able to learn about the diverse cultures and the country itself. Eventually, it all became normal and part of my daily life. It felt good to move on, to close the little gap that had been open for so long.
“Moving to Canada required a lot of bravery … and in the end, we found what we were looking for.”
Fast forward to November of 2021, where everything is going amazingly well. We have a house, we have a daughter named Evgenija, who’s 10, and two conures (birds). I currently work in a hospital and my husband works for the City of Toronto. Moving to Canada required a lot of bravery, but I would never call it a mistake, and in the end, we found what we were looking for.
I hope that others can relate to my experience and find the courage to do whatever it takes to achieve their own dreams.
Are you new to Canada and looking to learn the language and connect to others in a welcoming community? We’re here to help you find your way, and to support you in adjusting to a new culture and way of life in a new country.