Pablita Ravelo, Polaris Customs Supervisor
Few experiences can be as alienating, confusing—and, frankly, terrifying—as relocating to a new country. Without knowledge of the language, currency and politics of an area, adjusting to the way things are can be an emotional experience. For Pablita Ravelo, it started about seven years ago.
Cebu is one of the largest provinces in the Philippines and is home to a number of educational institutions. The University of Cebu is one of them…a world-class university established in 1964. Pablita, born and raised in the Philippines, was just beginning a promising career at the University as the youngest administrator and Principal. But, as it turned out, the Canadian Visa Pablita and her husband applied for months before was approved just as Pablita was starting her new career. She was understandably reticent to move her life and job to a new country, but she and her husband decided it was the best move for their daughters’ education and up bringing.
“I was at the height of my career when the Visa arrived,” said Pablita. “I was happy and fulfilled with my work, but we decided to come to Canada for the sake of our daughters. We wanted to give them the best education and my husband and I believed Canada was the best.”
Adjusting to life in Canada wasn’t easy. The language, the currency and transferring education were all obstacles. According to Pablita, the first two years in Canada were really difficult. “The first month, especially, was really tough. When we came here, it was like going back to zero. We knew nobody. Every day was a struggle, everything was uncertain.”
Pablita searched for work in her then-chosen profession: teaching. She had a wealth of experience from her life in the Philippines, but it wasn’t that simple. Teaching is a regulated profession in Canada—it would take a year or even two to become certified.
“I started thinking about all my transferrable skills from my time in academia,” said Pablita. “I knew I had skills and experience that would work in an office, as well. But, one thing would be a hindrance—my typing.” Because she had administrative assistants in the Philippines, Pablita’s keyboarding skills needed some brushing up before she could be considered for an office job. So, that’s exactly what she did. Pablita enrolled in a six-month course; at the three-month mark, she was asked to act as an assistant/shadow teacher for the learning centre.
When Pablita’s program was about to end, someone pointed her toward the Customs position at Polaris. She was hired almost right away. Although it was a little outside her wheelhouse, Pablita drew on the skills and experience she’d acquired during her time in higher education and her administrative assistant course to learn on-the-job. It took time to get used to the transportation office environment and, at first, it was difficult. “I told myself that I needed time to adjust and learn the job. I told myself not to quit,” says Pablita. “After a few months, I mastered my job.”
Now, Pablita can confidently say she has accomplished what she came to Canada to do. Both her daughters have had great success in education—the eldest graduating from McMaster Summa Cum Laude and the youngest about to enter the University of Guelph.
Pablita says that working at Polaris was the break she needed after two years in Canada. She finds herself positively challenged each day, and the team at Polaris has worked to provide opportunities for her daughters, as well. “It’s been like a family here.”
Reflecting on her time in Canada, Pablita says despite the challenges she faced during the first two years and the obstacles she had to overcome, seeing her daughters’ success is incredible. “Its one of the best things I could feel—this is what we wanted. Looking back, seeing what my daughters have achieved, we can say that we made it!”