My Thick Accent

Unpacking 'Where Are You From?': Perspectives on Identity and Belonging | Ft. Desire Olabode Ep. 046

September 14, 2023 Gurasis Singh Season 1 Episode 46
My Thick Accent
Unpacking 'Where Are You From?': Perspectives on Identity and Belonging | Ft. Desire Olabode Ep. 046
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Shall we take a deep dive into the journey of a Nigerian immigrant in Canada?
Meet Desire, a multi-faceted individual who joined us to share his extraordinary experiences. His recollections touch not just on cultural shock and acceptance, but also the future he envisions in his new home, the preservation of his Nigerian culture, and his upbringing and education in Nigeria.

Desire's narrative will captivate you, as he unravels his transition to Canada, the challenges, the triumphs, and all the tiny details that make this transition unique. His stories of navigating through language barriers and career opportunities, and his observations on Canadian inclusivity will make you ponder on the nuances of immigration. The conversation takes a fascinating turn as we discuss how Desiree responds to the often-asked question, "Where are you from?"

As we stroll through Desiree's career path in Canada, a tale of resilience and networking that led him from a customer service job to a lecturing position at Fanshawe College unfolds. Desire’s volunteer work opens a window to his personality, as he talks about building networks and creating opportunities. As we end the conversation, Desire reflects on his journey, shares his insights on Canada's immigration system, and offers advice for others experiencing cultural shock.
Come along to explore Desire's inspiring story!

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Want to share your story? Or know someone I should invite next on the show? DM us or write to us at Hello@mythickaccent.com


Gurasis:

Hi, this is Gurasis Singh and you're listening to my Thick Accent Podcast. So hear me out! There's a question that makes many people offended, which is "where are you from? But for me, it's just a question asked by someone who is curious about your looks, accent or mannerism. Instead of taking offense, I see it as an opportunity to share my unique cultural background and experiences. It's a chance to bridge gaps, foster understanding and celebrate diversity. Embracing this question can lead to enriching conversations that break down stereotypes and promote a more inclusive society, and today we have a guest who knows a thing or two about the intricacies of this question. Originally from Nigeria, he has lived in various parts of the board, from the UK to Nigeria, and even pursued his masters in marketing in Cyprus. He now teaches health marketing at Fanshawe College and has some interesting insights to share about cultural shock, acceptance and the promising future he envisions in Canada. Let's explore how his experiences have shaped his unique perspective on life and his journey as a newcomer to this diverse and welcoming country. Please welcome Desire.

Desire:

Thank you. It's so amazing to be part of this. I love what you're doing, Gurasis. It's an honor to be here.

Gurasis:

Likewise, Desire. It's an honor to have you on the podcast. Thank you for doing this and I'm very excited for this conversation. So, before we get into your journey and all the experiences that you have had in Canada, I want to start by asking you two questions. First is tell me this one habit that you have adopted that has changed your life, or something that has become your second nature.

Desire:

Thank you for that question, Gurasis. If there is anything I have adopted recently or from time past, it would be reading. I love to read and I am also a writer myself. You know, by the virtue of what I do from day to day, I write from time to time, and so reading and writing, it's something that I've come to adopt, it is part of me. I also have my own books. I am an author, I have. The last one is on project management, managing projects, you know, managing systems and structures, and I have that on Amazon. So, again, reading and writing is something that is now part of me. I mean, I'm just going to leave with me for the rest of my life.

Gurasis:

Awesome and I'm sure it also helps you to articulate your thoughts a little better as well. By reading, obviously you learn, add more things to your vocabulary, but also helps you to articulate your thoughts when you start writing. Absolutely.

Desire:

Absolutely.

Gurasis:

Okay, so the other question I want to ask is what is this one cultural aspect or tradition from your home country that you have managed to preserve or cherish up until today in Canada?

Desire:

Well, you know, coming into Canada became like a different ball game entirely. You know we met great people. Canada is a great, fantastic country with amazing people, very polite. You know people going by I mean duties in a very respectable manner, and that is also what resonates with me from back home.

Desire:

Nigeria is a very amazing country. We have great, fantastic loving people, peaceful people, we love education, we love research, we love so many things. We love nature, and so that is one of the things that really resonates. That's one of the culture. You know, it's not a culture show, because this is what we were faced with back home. This is what we're used to back home and that is what we met also in Canada.

Gurasis:

But is there something in terms of you know something that is unique to your house? For example, it could be in terms of the language, in terms of like a certain food that you still preserve up until today in Canada.

Desire:

Yes, absolutely yes. How would say food? Yeah, because you know we're not used to the normal Canadian way of eating and you know, coming into Canada we decided, you know, we're just going to have to stick to what we know how to eat. We love a particular kind of food, local food, and when we came into Canada we brought quite a number of that, you know, with us. Yeah, and from time to time we'll go back, you know, to make orders to bring to Canada, and Canada has given us that platform I mean very liberal country for us to bring our own local food. So, yeah, I would say food is one aspect that we have kept and will keep keeping. Well, maybe the kids will change their minds, but for me I'm not changing my mind. My wife is not changing my mind.

Gurasis:

Okay, awesome, okay, since you're talking about the food in Nigeria, let's just get back to your home country. Tell us a little bit about your time you spend there and a little bit more about the formative years you spend there.

Desire:

Yeah, thank you so much for that question. Like I said, nigeria is a very loving country. It's in West Africa and it is the most populous country in Africa. We have a modern state taking its present territorial shape as a result of the 19th century British colonization. You know, we're colonized by the British and we gain independence in 1960. And so many things have happened since then, you know, in terms of political, social happenings, economic, education, research.

Desire:

But one thing that is setting is Nigeria is still in the growing stage. I wouldn't say we are a developing country, because if we say we're developing country, then that leaves us to be like maybe still like the Stone Age. But no, I mean, nigeria has really advanced. There's still a lot of work to do, it's too much to do, but it's a great country. Against you, people back home are doing really well and anywhere Nigerians find themselves, they're doing amazingly well. In any country they find themselves in Canada, in the US, in Europe, anywhere In other parts of African countries they're doing amazingly well. And yeah, so that is one good thing I would say about Nigeria.

Gurasis:

And how was it like just growing up there, something that what the focus was on growing up within your family?

Desire:

Well, growing up in Nigeria was quite unique because, you know, there wasn't too much technology. Then, like, I'll tell my kids oh, you have iPad, you have, you know, this gadget, you have this to play with. I didn't have all of that, so it's just a different ball game. We had our own style of learning. Growing up was fun because there was this social, cultural thing that we kept. You know, we knew each other, we played with each other. You know you go outside your own space to go play with other kids, you know, in another zone, in another region or in your street, right. So there was just that close meet between people and you know, growing up again was fun. Education was a priority in.

Desire:

Nigeria. Everyone was, you know, expected to go to school. Well, some people probably didn't make it to school due to financial issues, but at the same time, it was a priority. Every child in Nigeria, every home in Nigeria, took education as a major priority. And yeah, so we went to school. We did all the things that every other kid anywhere in the world did and, yeah, again, it was fun, lovely places to visit, the family, culture held in high esteem, nature really cherished. Basically, all of the things we've noticed in Canada as well are all the things that you know. That is back home as well.

Gurasis:

So, you know, I have had the pleasure of speaking with people on the podcast who are from Nigeria and even, like you know, offline, and they tell me about. You know how the three languages are there. I'd always forget the third one. I remember the two, which was Ibo and Yogoba, I believe, and then there was a third one as well, which you can share with me and also tell us, like what city are you from?

Desire:

Oh, yeah, so I am from oil state, okay, and I grew up in Lagos. And talking about language, nigeria is a multinational state, you know that inhabits more than 250 ethnic groups and, as a matter of fact, we speak over 500 distinct languages. Okay, and I mean, we all identify with a wide variety of cultures, so it's a highly multicultural state or country, but the largest ethnic groups are the AUSAs, the Yoruba in the West and the Ibo's in the East. Okay, so those are the three main tribes, or ethnic groups as you may call it. And, yeah, and talked about the language, we have AUSA, we have Yoruba, we have the Ibo language, which are the major language, but, like I said, we have over 500.

Gurasis:

Okay, Okay, awesome. I had no idea about the easy. I mean. Of course they did share with me these languages and know how multicultural it is, but I didn't know about like 15, 500 different languages, that's crazy Over 500.

Desire:

Yes, yes, yes.

Gurasis:

You also lived in UK for some time and then you also went to Cyprus for your masters. Tell us about those experiences and the decisions to travel.

Desire:

Well, yeah, and you know that was also a very, very interesting part of our lives. My wife actually studied in the UK. Okay, she had a master's degree in the UK. I had my master's degree in Cyprus, but few times I went visiting in the UK. So I stayed in the UK, just, you know. I'll say briefly, you know, three weeks I go back, come back, two weeks I go back, you know. So it's well, it wasn't like maybe six months at the stretch in the UK, but you know, we went to different places Milton Keynes, liverpool, london and all these great, beautiful places and cities. And one thing that resonates with us is the UK is also a very fantastic place to live in. You know, wonderful people, great atmosphere. They have their own culture as well.

Desire:

You know, as you already know, there is Scotland, there is England, there is Wales and Northern Ireland, so those four countries make up UK. So we were in England, which is just one one part of the United Kingdom, and then going to Cyprus. You know, I love academics, I love research, I love going to new places, I love, you know, meeting new people and that's one of the reasons I decided, you know what I would love to, you know, do my master's degree in Cyprus, and that's what I do. So I decided to be there. Cyprus is a loving, beautiful country.

Desire:

It's an island to be, I mean yeah, it's an island and oh yeah, it is massive, beautiful, it is geographically in West Asia but, culturally and geopolitically.

Desire:

Southeast European, okay, and it's. Cyprus is the third largest and third most populous island in the world. Beautiful sea, beautiful tourism spot or location? Yeah, it's, it's amazing, the sea, the Mediterranean sea, which is, yeah, the one they have. Lovely, I think it's one of the most gentle sea in the world. I really enjoyed my stay living in Cyprus Wonderful people, great food oh, my goodness, oh, I miss the kebab. Okay, by my yoghurt, you know. Lovely, lovely atmosphere. If there isn't one place I would love to go again, it would be Cyprus, just, you know, to see the lovely sea, lovely people, amazing people, great culture and all of that.

Gurasis:

Okay, well, sounds very fascinating.

Desire:

You should go, you should go for sure.

Gurasis:

I should add that to the list, but I also read and heard Desire that English is less spoken than than Turkish or Greek in Cyprus. Right, but I wanted to educate us like how was your experience like in terms of communication that?

Desire:

Well, it was a bit of a challenge, to be honest with you, because English was my main language, but I had to live in a country where I have to learn how to communicate in Turkish or Greek. Yeah, and it was. It was a bit of challenge, you know. Even getting a job was, you know, relatively, relatively impossible to be honest yeah, because of the language barrier, you would.

Desire:

I mean, the job is there for you, they want to employ you and you're speaking English. Excuse me please, I need a job, do you have any vacancy? And they say, oh, my friend, brush, brush, brush and you'll be like, oh my goodness, how are we supposed to communicate, you know? Or you call the taxi taxi, I'm going to. You know you mentioned the place, and then it takes you somewhere else and then you would have to now, you know, battle it out. Oh, this is not. No, this is not a place. And it's telling you oh my goodness, how are we supposed to manage this?

Desire:

So it was a bit of an issue, to be very honest. But other than that, the cost of food, housing, utilities, even education was, was relatively low, I mean, not so expensive like other European countries. So that that was something. That was that. I mean, that would took away. That. That was something else. If the language barrier is a big issue, all these other things are just going to be okay enough to stay in this country. So it made us stay. So let's pivot towards your Canadian journey, Desire. You moved to Canada in 2019 with your family, with the permanent residency with PR. But first tell us about the decision to move.

Desire:

what influenced the decision and the duration it took you to come to Canada and I think that's a good point.

Gurasis:

To be honest with you, there are several reasons why people relocate abroad. You know why they move abroad? Yeah, and for me it was a combination of so many things. Not like Nigeria was in give up, but like Canada was in give up.

Desire:

The best that we want, because Nigeria is a land of opportunity as well. There is so much you can gain living in that country.

Desire:

But, you know, I also wanted to explore a better quality of life, and I think that's a good point, even though I made up my mind that Canada is the last country. I'm not going anywhere anymore. I haven't lived in, you know, different countries. For me, it was more of a, you know, a better quality of life. I love adventure, I love exploration, even though I made up my mind that Canada is the last country. I'm not going anywhere anymore. I haven't lived in, you know, different countries.

Desire:

For me, it was more of the career opportunities, the education. We cannot deny the fact that it's much more better here in terms of all these things I mentioned quality of life, education, access to technology, you know, and all of those. So, yeah, so it was more of having access to all of that that made me say, you know what? We would pursue the opportunity of coming to Canada. And we did and we got, you know, canada gave us that privilege, gave us that opportunity to come here with my family, so, and we've been here for four years and a half, from now going to five years, and it's been an amazing journey. We've met great people, you know. We've made families out of the people we met here. Canada recognizes community building, so they also get to also give you the opportunity to have your own lead to community right. So the Nigerian community here is solid. I live in London, ontario, and it's the Nigerian community is one of the best in Canada closely needed amazing group of people and we're doing great things.

Desire:

So coming to Canada for me was more of adventure exploration. You know, seeking for more better quality life education. I want to learn more other career opportunities that may come.

Gurasis:

And how long did it took you to the whole process of getting the PR and moving?

Desire:

Well, I would say we were among the few people that were very lucky. You know, sometimes it could take months it could take years. Absolutely. But for us it took, I'll say, one year, you know, from getting the documents, from uploading the document. As a matter of fact, we got rejected, oh okay so for the first instance.

Desire:

Yeah, we got rejected because I mistakenly uploaded my songs, that certificates for my daughter and because of that error they say you know, we're not, we're not disqualifying you from applying again, but we have to start your application. You have to start your application all over. We just put all of our documents together one more time and then we started the process and within one month of submitting all of our documents, within one month of about eight weeks there, about six weeks, we got our PR and, yeah, that was it for us. That was, you know, the change, the game changer. That was what changed everything for us. We were so excited and, yeah, and that's how we started our Canadian journey.

Gurasis:

I'm sure I'm sure it must be a game changer, but tell us about your first day when you landed some initial thoughts or emotions.

Desire:

Oh yeah. So because I've lived in different or visited different countries and you know, in different places in the world, I used to feel like, oh, how cold can it be? You know, talking about the weather in Canada, how cold can it be? Oh, I've seen minus 12. I've seen, you know.

Desire:

and then Until you came to Canada oh yeah, yeah, the first day we came in, I remember everyone telling me when you come in, they show you where your gloves put on a very thick jacket and all of that. And I'm like, come on, I don't need that. Come on, man, coming into Canada, the weather was no one told me to put on my gloves. I was like what? And it was minus 18 on that day. I would never forget. I came outside the airport and I ran back inside. What? This is more than deep, deep freezer. This is. I mean, this is man.

Desire:

But beyond that, we met great people. The immigration officers were really amazing. It feels good to hear the word welcome to Canada. It feels so good. We've heard so much about Canada, we've read so much about Canada. Oh, they're so polite, they're so friendly, they smile, they do all of that. I saw it for the first time when we came in Our very first day and I was like, wow, I mean, if everyone is this nice all over the world, the world is going to be a better place. And you know, that kind of like that was one of the things that kind of resonated with us. Oh, wow, this is a beautiful country.

Desire:

Look at the staff, look at the officers Look at, you know, and then the code aspect of it as well.

Gurasis:

But that's my, I would say that's my first experience coming into Canada for them, yeah, so you said that you have obviously lived in and all around the world, different countries, different places, and you were also telling me that obviously you just mentioned that, how Canada is so accepting and warm and welcoming towards immigrants, but what are any significant cultural differences? Comparing it to the other places that you have lived in Is something that completely caught your eye or something that you can share.

Desire:

Oh, oh, yeah. So well, look, look, look into acceptance and I must be very honest with you, coming from the angle of a black person, I think it's a little bit different. In Canada, there is racism everywhere, even in my country, I mean, there is bias, biasness there is, you know what I mean. There is preferentiality in place, but in Canada it's slightly different and that's one of the things that first, that we first pointed at, you know, myself and my wife it's, it's, it's slightly different. They accept times, the friendliness, the, the welcoming is just totally different compared to every other country we've been to. Maybe in other countries, maybe, I'm just saying maybe they may look at you in the face and just say, hey, I don't like you, I don't like you. Okay, it's different here because even if they don't like you, they still smile with you, kind of like well, I may not like you, but my system, my culture, my, the country I live in, says I should be nice and I have to be nice. This is who I am right, I mean.

Desire:

I just have to be nice because it's a fair world and it's just totally different. To be honest, I mean it's, it's not in compared to everywhere we've been. I mean everywhere, everywhere. I mean talking about Cyprus, talking about UK, talking about other African countries we've been to, talking about some other European countries with VCTAD. It's just different, absolutely different here in Canada.

Gurasis:

I just want to go a little bit more deeper into that. Do you remember any certain anecdotes, certain instances that you came across, that you will, you will kind of like taken aback then, whoa, what did she just say? Or what did he just say, or what just happened here?

Desire:

Yeah, if I remember very well, I would say, for instance, when we came into Canada and everyone asked you questions like are you okay when I'm coming from or where I visit, that no one really cares. Okay, like no one really cares if you. I mean, why should I ask you if you're okay? Right, and you know, my wife was pregnant at the time when we came in and we'll go into the store and you see people coming to us. I'm like, hey, expecting a baby, what's the name of your baby? Oh, hope you guys are keeping warm, keeping good. All of those niceness was like come, where are we? We're coming from another country where, not that they're not nice, it's not like they're evil people. No, no, no, no. But maybe they don't express it well enough like they express it here in Canada, right.

Desire:

So people, people looking after you, people asking you questions if you're good, if you're okay, and all of that it's. It's something that kind of eat us like heart, like whoa. This is a lovely place and yeah.

Gurasis:

I'm actually glad to hear that you highlighted the good experiences. I'm very happy to hear that, because it's always the bad ones which, kind of like, stayed with you at times. But tell me, does it, what lessons have you learned? You know through these good and bad experiences, or from these you know diverse cultural experiences that you can share.

Desire:

Oh yeah. Well, and to be honest with you as well, guresh, there's all. There's also been some bad experiences, but I would say one out of 10, against any other country, maybe five over 10 in any other country, maybe in Canada is one, don't one person out of 10, like looking into your face and telling you go back to your country. And you know you get those kind of words sometimes, but in the midst of all of this, in the midst of all of this wanting kept us strong. We know we came to the right country. We know we are in a country that is going to give you the opportunity you want, if only you can believe, because a lot of people have their challenges coming in as a manager, coming in as a doctor, coming into Canada as you know, a professional and then having to start all over. It's a big challenge and I resonate with that, to be honest, because we also had to start from the scratch. Of course.

Desire:

But again, beyond all of those bad experiences like you lose because we lost everything technically, I mean coming here to start all over, all over. You know you have to be your resume from the scratch. They tell you don't have enough Canadian experience. Once they hear you and you have the accent oh, oh, come on, or your name is not sounding the way they should Like, the normal way they know your chances are so limited.

Desire:

So, yeah, as much as I can say all of those good experiences, I know there is also the bad one. I'm not I mean going to deny all of that happening, but again, in all of this, we know this is a great country and this is a country that's going to give you any opportunity as long as you keep pushing.

Gurasis:

You know, obviously, that you came with your family and you came with, like, a certain experiences from Nigeria and I'm sure you have had, like some sort of preparation for coming. But was this something that you were not prepared for that you came across?

Desire:

Well, it's the rejection of my background my career background.

Desire:

Coming into Canada, I was coming with high hopes. I was a manager back home and you know I had people working that I worked with subordinates. Coming into a country, I thought, okay, I might not start at the peak, maybe I would start in the meat range and then walk my way to the top. But no, coming into Canada we started from the bottom. So that was a total rejection of, I mean, everything we've built, everything I have ever been. That was. That was a not so good experience. Right Again, we've got to deal with that and we're glad for what we had today and where we are right now. And we know it's only a matter of time we'll build our way to the top. It's only a matter of time.

Desire:

It's only a matter of time.

Gurasis:

Yeah, of course. And how did your children integrate into this new culture, new society? Tell us about that.

Desire:

Well, to be honest, funny enough, they were so fast to integrate, very, very fast. You know, making friends as fast as I mean I can't imagine how very fast they make friends in school. They come back, tell of all of those beautiful stories about their classroom and we sometimes ask them oh, do you miss your school back home? And they'll be like, no, no, no, really what. You know, they kind of integrated very fast, maybe because they were very, I mean, still little. My eldest, dan, was just four years old and no five years old. My second was two years old. No three, yeah, three, five and three yeah. So it didn't take so long for them to get used to the system.

Desire:

They loved the weather they loved the people when we were still having a struggle eating the Canadian kind of food my kids were already asking for, you know, the Canadian meal right, the fries and chicken, the I mean all of those great Canadian food right which we were still having a hard time to eat. Well, yeah, so they integrated very fast. Yeah, that was a good thing for us. It didn't take us too much to, you know, learn how to also be part of that group and yeah, so, and, and we're doing really well. They're doing really well. Today. The kids are doing really amazingly well.

Desire:

Once in a while, they want to ask you, can we make a visit to Nigeria sometime? And you'd be like, oh sure, are you sure you want to go to Nigeria? They'd be like, yeah, we can try, let's go, let's just, you know. But to be honest, they don't remember anything about Nigeria. If I tell them, do you remember? You used to do this back, oh, wow, they'd be like, oh, really, Did I do this? Oh, yeah, you did that. They don't remember any of any of any of such anymore. So that's how fast they integrated.

Gurasis:

Yeah, no, very, very similar responses I have got from other immigrants I've spoken to on the podcast and they have said the same that children were the quicker than us to really integrate into this new world and they were really happy. And and somebody I spoke to who was from India and she said I asked my children that, oh, we are planning to visit, you want to visit? They were like no, no, I'm happy here, I'm happy with my friends in school here.

Desire:

Yeah, yeah, it's this. I think it's the same experience almost everywhere. Just very few kids coming and don't like this place, very few.

Gurasis:

So, Desire, you have mentioned that the question where you're from is often asked of you, and it's a question that can sometimes make people offended. However, you have taken a completely different perspective on it and seeing it as a question of curiosity. Can you share with us some of your personal encounters with this question and how you have chosen to respond to it?

Desire:

Thank you for that question. To be honest, I personally do not see anything wrong with where are you from. I'm always very glad to let them know. Oh, my origin or my history or my background is West Africa.

Desire:

And then they kind of ask again where, where in West Africa? And I say, well, Nigeria, oh, okay, oh yeah. So a few times we get that a lot. Some people mean it in a very good way, and some people mean it in a very, very bad way. They're telling you, go back to your country. And it's not something we accept. Well, to be honest, A few times I just let it go, because you don't want to engage people like that, negative people. I try as much as possible to stay away from them, but a few times we get that a lot. If it means well, I'm always able to read it. If it means well, oh, I'm always happy to share. And I ask them the same question where are you from, too? And they'll be like from Canada. I said, no, I'm talking about your background, Because now I show that it'll be like oh yeah, my granddad is from Croatia.

Desire:

My you know, and then they go a little bit into the history and the background, because somehow I think everyone immigrated here at some point. Maybe it's 100 years ago, 80 years ago, 50 years ago, 10 years ago. At some point people came into this country to make it what it is today. Yeah, so when we get questions like where are you from? Sometimes I see if it's positive I respond, you know, in a very positive way. If it is negative, I just let it go. I mean I just let it slide. I don't want to brew negativity. And then you know what I mean. So I just let it go. I mean the reality is people ask these questions from time to time. I remember working as a customer service agent for a telecommunications company and I don't want to mention the name and a few times, because I also do sales. So a few times when I cold call, you know you just call random people.

Desire:

First thing they tell you get out of my line or go back to your country and all of that you know, sometimes you just smile Because that's how we've been trained anyway, you do a service job.

Desire:

You can't say what do you mean, you know. And then you know you don't want to go that way, right, yeah? So again, I just let it go, I just let it fly, you know, just don't think about it. Move on, move ahead. And the good ones, hamongos, don't see any offense when they mean it. Well, I respond well as well.

Gurasis:

Yeah, I think you have touched some great points, Desire, and I think I would like to mention, like highlight, like few of those, obviously. The first is Canada is the land of immigrants Everybody has. Most of Canadians have somehow at some point in their life have immigrated or their families have immigrated from some part of the world. So I think I personally also never take offense to this question, because I feel like what if the person is genuinely curious about me, or they're curious about my colors of my turban, or they're just because I have met so many people who have no idea about? You know, I'm a follower of Sikh faith and many people don't know about Sikhism. Many people I came across, you know, in Canada who are from various parts of the world and I'm happy to educate them. And, like I said, there's a difference between the people who are genuinely curious and the people who are just trying to. You know, pull you down and I think you just have to gauge accordingly and I love that you said that sometimes you don't want to brew the negativity, you know you don't want to really respond to that and just move on with your lives and don't get into that. And the other thing you said is, you know, working for the customer service agent and people shouting at you, you wouldn't believe, Desire, this podcast, the name of this podcast is the result of one of the experiences I've had.

Gurasis:

I was talking to somebody on the phone and the person I was interviewing someone over the phone and this man in between the conversation said oh my God, you have such a thick Indian accent. And to which I replied sir, you also have a thick Canadian accent. And so when I said that, the person was kind of taken aback and he started giggling and we never continue the conversation. So for some reason, that was back in 2019, I believe and that not that I want to start a podcast back then, but that name somehow stayed in the back of my mind and see today Thank you to those people everybody who gave me the name to the podcast might take action.

Desire:

Yeah.

Gurasis:

Hey, if you're enjoying the content and conversations we bring to you every week, we will love for you to join our growing community. Make sure to follow us on all major podcast directories, including Apple podcasts, spotify, google podcasts or wherever you consume your podcast. That way, you'll never miss an episode and you'll always stay in the loop with the latest insights and stories. And speaking of staying connected, I always always encourage you to follow your heart, but also also on Instagram. The handle is @MyThickAccent. We'll be sharing a lot more behind the scenes content, some updates and some even fun sneak peaks. So give us a follow and let's engage even more closely there. And to all those who provided their feedback and input, thank you so much. It truly, truly shaped the direction of a podcast, and I would love to hear from any of the new folks who joined us today. Don't hesitate to reach out with any thoughts, ideas or even suggestions for future guests. Drop us an email at Hello@mythickaccent. com. Now let's get back to the episode.

Desire:

Oh yeah, oh yeah, we can take that away. To be honest, behind the accent is a warrior.

Desire:

It's a conqueror Love that, and you know, I was having a conversation with my friends yesterday, canadian friends and I asked them one question Would you leave this country, leave everything you've acquired, everything you've ever been, and move to another country to start all over again? And all of them said, um, no, no, I don't think I'm gonna do that, I'm done. I don't think I'm gonna. I'm gonna do that. I said, well, so that's it. If you can't do that, then don't be too hard on people who take that bold step to leave wherever. I mean because some people were doing really well absolutely.

Desire:

And I still decided to, to move and we've seen what also happened in Ukraine. You know people could be victim of anything. You know, famine, war, anything can make people leave, can make people emigrate and, of course, some of them don't speak English and it's not a, it's an out of place to be nice to everyone and because behind that accent is a tough, tough journey. Yeah, 100%.

Gurasis:

I always say this accent is a sign of bravery and do not underestimate us.

Desire:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Gurasis:

So, Desire, since you moved in 2019, you have gotten to various jobs and roles, right Starting as, like you said, the customer service agent for various telecommunication companies. Then you also became a social media manager, but also at some point you were telling me that you felt that healthcare is going to be a very interesting industry and and you actually went back to school and study, and later you also worked as PSW, post and support worker, and now you also teach at Fanshawe College. So tell us about all these transitions that you've had.

Desire:

Yeah, and you know it's pretty interesting because you know we talked about. When you come into Canada, you have to start from the scratch. You know, like you know, start from yeah, from the bottom. Well, we also must say this some people came into Canada and started at the peak. To be very honest with you, I know a few friends that came into Canada and they didn't have to start from the scratch. They just started from what they used to do, or even above what they were doing.

Gurasis:

How?

Desire:

how tell us like an example I know a few friends in the IT world, the IT industry, that maybe they were software developers back home and then they came into Canada and they got first their first job as a software developer. They didn't have to do Huba, they didn't have to do customer service, you know. They got their dream job and continued in that line and even some of them, you know, even went higher in terms of profile than what they used to do back home. But for someone like me, I had to start from the scratch. Starting from the scratch means, you know, just getting anything that comes my way you know, and gradually I got well, I would say.

Desire:

I got promoted to get another job, which was with the telecommunication industry. I worked for Rogers, I worked for Bell Canada and then I transitioned into going into my full role, which is digital marketing. Like you said already, I'm a digital marketing and communication specialist and, you know, a creative public relations professional and, yeah, so I deal with internal and external communication. You know, area of expertise is website optimization, media relations, content marketing development and you know, and all and all of those you know, lovely brand identity, brand values and all of that.

Desire:

I went to school in between. Anyways, I went to more college to study public relations and I got my graduate certificate. That helped me to get that job, but unfortunately COVID happened and I lost the job. So I was home for a little bit of time and I just found something else to do. You can? You know, canada, there is views. Keep coming right.

Gurasis:

Absolutely.

Desire:

So yeah, so I just got something else quickly in the manufacturing company and shortly after that time COVID was still a thing right and there was just so much attention in the healthcare industry and I felt, you know what, this is an opportunity for me to go into healthcare in Canada to make an impact. I've always loved healthcare anyway. So what's the minimum I can do? Then I said, okay, the minimum would be to be a personnel support worker, because they needed care, give us.

Desire:

I mean everywhere. There's and there's a lot of seniors in Canada, as you already know. So I decided you know I'm going to go back to school got my certificate and then became a personnel support worker. While I was working in that field as well, you know you don't stop right. You keep pushing, you keep pushing, you keep pressing. And something else came up.

Desire:

Something else came up, something else came up and somehow you know, you network, you volunteer, you do all of those great things in Canada as you, as they would expect, and I grew some very solid network. And that's how I, one of those days I was just talking to my friend and she's a lecturer in Fanshawe College, and so you have a very solid resume. You have, I mean, from the way I speak to you it seems like you know.

Desire:

And that's how, oh, do you mind I could recommend you for a lecture in Rome? I said, oh, I've been dreaming all my life to be in the classroom. I love the classroom so much, how would I appreciate if you recommend me? And that's one thing about Canada as well. Recommendation works.

Desire:

Referral is a thing, it's a big thing, and then she referred me and I was interviewed and I got a job and it's a major of healthcare in Canada which I have now been part of and digital marketing marketing background. I have my master's degree in marketing and I really, really appreciate what I do right now, going into the classroom and talking about the Canadian healthcare industry and talking about marketing itself. Oh, I love it.

Desire:

It just keeps flowing you know, and it has been an awesome experience. I met great students and I have met quite a number of international students. Because I teach international students and amazing people, people that came into Canada just like me, and it's I mean. As much as I try to teach, I also try to make them understand all of the struggles and how they can be part of the system and also be successful in. Canada, so they always listen to me. I have 95% attendance in class 95, yeah, 95% average average.

Desire:

So almost everyone wants to come to class, even when they have they have a hard time coming to class. They want to come to class because they know I'm gonna share my experience, I'm gonna tell my stories, I'm gonna say all those beautiful things they want to hear Because, beyond doing that program, beyond paying that tuition, they also need to know that this is a country that can work for them, in their favor. All they need to do is keep pushing.

Desire:

So they love the story when I tell them oh, I kept pushing, I've been laid off, I've been fired on my job before and they were like what I said yeah, you know, done several things, done this, I've done that. They be like what I said yeah, and now I'm standing in front of you to tell you all these great things.

Desire:

It's a pleasure, it's a honor, and I'm not taking it for granted at all. So yeah, so that's my journey so far in Canada, and I know it's just the beginning. I'll keep pushing and I'll get the desired result.

Gurasis:

Absolutely. I'm sure about that and I love what you said. This country works in your favor as long as you keep pushing. I love that.

Desire:

Absolutely, absolutely, yeah, because you know, sorry to say, you know people give up sometimes and that's one of the struggles as an immigrant and you know the accent is not in your favor the Canadian experience you don't have it. So people sometimes, you know, want to give up and be like, oh man, you know you meet people. They're crying, they having a hard time integrating. I just tell them, you know what wipe your tears. It's not a time to cry, it's the time to push, it's the time to forget all of those bad, negative words people are going to tell you into your face, all those words you don't want to hear. Go back to your country and all of those racial sloths. You have to push that aside Absolutely. Keep your head up, keep moving, keep pushing and you get desired results.

Gurasis:

Yeah, keep your head up, keep moving, keep pushing and you get the desired result. This was going to be my next question what advice would you give to the international students? And this is the best advice, so thank you for sharing that.

Desire:

Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Gurasis:

Yeah, and you know, apart from the jobs, you have also done a lot of volunteering work and I have again had various interactions where the guests have mentioned that, how volunteering has been an essential part of the Canadian journey. I want to tell us that how important was it for you, and also about the project that you did with the city of London on mental health.

Desire:

Yes, thank you so much, gurasi. Volunteering cannot be overemphasized. In Canada, we were coming from where I came from. Volunteering wasn't really a thing right, but coming into Canada it opened my eyes. So I could be part of this. I could be part of this in my community. I could make impact, and that's how I also built my network. I volunteer, even currently, for different organizations. Some of them are religious organizations, some of them are community based organizations, some of them are healthcare organizations, and I'm even planning to be part of more okay because sometimes it's when you have the time or the availability that they call on you or you, you know.

Desire:

Make yourself available to do the job they want you to do.

Desire:

So it's not all the time so it's only 24 hour basis kind of task. So it's once in a while. I volunteered for Saint Vincent de Paul in Hamilton, I volunteered for Friendship Bench, I volunteered for NALA, which is the Nigerian Association of London and Area, and while we volunteered, that was also when we got a grant to execute the project, the mental health project sponsored by the city of London. I was part of the facilitator for that project and you know several of that roles have played in different communities in different organizations. If people are looking in that direction, it's one way they can integrate very fast in the system. It's one way they can build their solid network.

Gurasis:

Absolutely.

Desire:

Because Canada is all about network. Oh, it's all about network. It's all about network, yeah 100%.

Gurasis:

It is all about network, for sure. You are also an author, like you mentioned in the beginning, and you have written three books, and the one of the last ones was called the power of system and structure, if I'm not wrong, and you were telling me that you're also working on the fourth one, which was around the marketing as well. So tell us that where can people find these books and when is the next one coming?

Desire:

Well, I mean. Thank you so much, Gurasis. I always love to talk about my books. Yeah, the last one is the power of structure and system. It's on Amazon. All my books are on Amazon. The next one is the chronicles of internal marketing. The chronicles of internal marketing, basically, is just providing an exceptional you know customer service experience, starting with having an excellent internal customer. Every brand must recognize that the first customer or the first customers are the staff, the employees. It is when they have that understanding that they can, you know, come up with some lovely concept that works first, because the employees have to be part of the organization for us, before you now even start reaching out to the external customers, I'm still putting things together, but it should be out next year, hopefully, because you know it takes a lot of effort to sit down and you know, right, right, right, right, right right. If it's out, it's going to be on Amazon as well. I feel it's just very easy to put it on that platform. It's the biggest, or one of the biggest, out there.

Gurasis:

Yeah for sure, well, do. All the links to check out the books can be found in the show notes. So, Desire, before we get into the final segment, I just have one last quick question to ask you that, as someone who has seen different parts of the world, you know and what do you see in Canada's future, and how does it align with your aspirations?

Desire:

Beautiful, beautiful question, gurazis. I mean you should. I don't know if you are pursuing PhD in questioning people. Yeah, you are amazing and you ask very great questions.

Desire:

So, Canada is a place that gives you around, you know, great opportunities and we never can push that aside. With my current status and where I am right now, I am looking forward to becoming a, should I say, renowned teacher or professor in the future, and I know Canada is going to give me that opportunity to be whatever I want to be as long as I keep pushing right. So so I see myself in the future coming that and I know Canada is a place that is going to give me that great opportunity. Accent or no accent, I am not the one, I am not the type that, you know, let things affect me. I just move forward, I keep pushing and I believe, yeah, it's just a matter of time, I'll get my desired result. Yeah, so once again, future is great, canada is going to be Canada, it's going to be an awesome country.

Desire:

It's welcoming people. I mean, I think Canada has grown to 40 million. 40 million, yeah, that is huge. When I came in, it was 36 million and so in close to five years they've grown by 4 million different you know parts of the country, so that is really great. So it's a country that is growing, welcoming new people, welcoming, you know, immigrants. They're very welcoming countries, so, and I hope to be part of that growth yeah, I hope to be part of that growth as the country gives us the opportunity to grow.

Gurasis:

Awesome, I love that answer and more power to you, for sure. I'm sure you will get everything. Like you said, you are continuing to push and you'll continue to push and you'll reach wherever you want to go, for sure.

Desire:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Gurasis:

So, Desire, now we're in the final segment of the podcast. I call it Beneath the Accent. I'm going to ask a couple of questions. You can answer them in one word, or a sentence, or house ever. You feel like the idea is just to know more about you. So ready, yes please. So first is, what advice would you give to someone who is struggling with the cultural shock and the new cultural experiences that they're having?

Desire:

Great question. Cultural shock is normal and I think everyone should realize there has to be that cultural intelligence to accept other people's culture as part of your own. I would say you know what? Embrace the new place you found yourself, Embrace the new identity that they're trying to pass across to you because, trust me, this country has grown for millions of years, so there's a way to do things here.

Desire:

There's a way you do things back home and it's all the same. And if you want to thrive in this country, you have to be open. You have to be open, that's the big word. You have to be open and find a way to integrate into the system. Well, if it's a bad one there are some bad cultural shock of course you find a way to help make it better.

Gurasis:

Perfect Love the answer. The next is if you could give advice to your younger self, tazure, tell us like, at what age would you like to give advice and what would be that advice?

Desire:

Hmm, yeah, deep question. Looking back into my life, I'll give an advice to my 20 year old, because I think that was when everything really, really changed for me. Because coming out of high school, yeah, high school graduated and I was waiting to go into college or university. I made some wrong decisions right, and things didn't go well as I should expect. Our advice to make the right decision. And again, one of the advice I would have given to myself was I would have loved to come to Canada much longer than I came now.

Desire:

Okay, If I had the opportunity, I would have made that decision way, way, way. Because even at 20, I know few friends that came into Canada to study. But then there wasn't much information. We saw Canada as a very, very far away, cold country and it didn't make us make the quick decision. Because there is so much you can gain if you come into a country like this at a younger age, rather than coming when you're 40, you're 45, you know 46, you know what I mean. So there's little there's, so there isn't so much you can do or achieve at that time anymore. But notwithstanding, not America, Canada always tell you you can't be anything at any time.

Gurasis:

If you could change one thing about the immigration system in Canada, what would it be?

Desire:

It would be to give preference to everyone, everyone, and not selective, selective peaking Is that the best English to use? You know you're giving preference to some people over some other people. That shouldn't be. Maybe they will say you know, well, we don't do that, but somehow we know some countries get some More privileges than somehow that one, yeah, yeah.

Gurasis:

And one of them which I absolutely hate is like we Indians had to do aisles, which is the international English learning language test, and we had to do that before come. I think it's the same for Nigeria, I believe you guys had to do that. Yeah, exactly, but then there are some countries where they don't speak English at all and they just can apply for the visa and they can come without Doing the aisles, which is totally unfair in my opinion.

Desire:

Absolutely, absolutely, if it's. If you do it for a, you must do it for all. Yeah so it should be a fair game to everyone.

Gurasis:

Yeah, if you had to describe yourself as a creature, what would it be?

Desire:

I'll describe myself as an eagle okay, a bird and the eagle is a very, very amazing Creature because it doesn't really mingle with all that kind of birds. It's a special breed, it can swar really high and it symbolizes inspiration, release from bond, bondage, speed and longevity. You know, pride. I'm loyal to all the symbols linked to an eagle and those are if I, if I want to talk about myself, I am a, I am a big inspiration to myself. I have flown, or how do I say, yeah, I've gone over, gone past any kind of bondage In my life. So there are so many things that could have held me down, so many things that could have, you know, put me down, but you know, I overcame. I overcame and I had victory, longevity. I'm alive today, despite all my struggles, despite living in different countries, despite my accent. I'm alive. Yeah.

Desire:

I'm not still going and speed. Oh, I ate sluggishness.

Gurasis:

I.

Desire:

I don't have any tolerance for sluggishness. I love speed. Oh, oh, too much I love speed. Unfortunately, you have to learn to tolerate. You know some things or some places or some people you know, sometimes by love speed. That's how I'm going to describe myself. I'll describe myself as bird and eagle.

Gurasis:

Okay, perfect, and I believe your parent, your children, have a tough dad who doesn't like the sluggishness. Oh yeah.

Desire:

Oh yeah, oh, they know that he likes it fast, fast, fast, fast. Get your shoes, get your clothes. You know I play with them. We have great time as a family, but they also know when I switch. It means.

Gurasis:

Okay, is this something? Does it a you recently bought and you're not a grad?

Desire:

What would that be? Yeah, I'll Say yes, I Invested into Cryptocurrencies okay. Last year. They're about and I made a loss and, yeah, I am the type that usually don't want to be part of those kind of you know. This one is all moving right now. This is. This is the outcake in the market. This is what is selling right now. I usually don't, but there was too much pressure from friends. Oh, this is right.

Desire:

You should know this is selling right now. You could buy Bitcoin, you could buy this Currency, you could buy that currency and they make you and it's okay. You know, okay, let me invest some thousands of dollars in it and I did, and few weeks later Came down. But I lost so much and I regret it Even to today.

Gurasis:

So what's next on your bucket list about from going to Nigeria and Cyprus? What's next on a bucket list?

Desire:

Oh yeah, I'm looking to make a trip to Cancun. Can come Mexico. I heard it's a very lovely. They have very lovely resort. It's a very beautiful. Is the island, or it's a very beautiful place To be? I have couple of friends that have visited and they said very great things about the place.

Gurasis:

Okay, who was your go-to person when you feel stuck?

Desire:

I am a spiritual person, so I have some spiritual leaders that I look up to and they somehow people that I Talk to when I'm stuck or when I need some advice, and sometimes I just close my eyes, I just pray. God see me true God, I need help and you know, help always. Yeah, I mean help always come, help always come.

Gurasis:

Absolutely. Are there any movies or shows that you like to watch over and over again?

Desire:

I love family feud.

Gurasis:

Okay.

Desire:

Steve so much I mean I love the dude himself is a great guy and I love the show. I love the three idiots.

Gurasis:

Oh, that's an Indian movie.

Desire:

Oh yeah, I love this so much, I mean, I could see it again, again. I even love that guy particularly. I'm, it can now, yeah, yeah, can is a great guy. He did one recently to on Talking about religion. It's called PK, pk, yes, exactly, yes, oh, I love. Pk to me is one of the more, one of the most undirated movies of all time, because it did it, went deep. It went deep that there are some things about that movie that you need a deep insight. Yeah for you to understand.

Gurasis:

Yeah, a lot of uncomfortable topics were very openly discussed.

Desire:

Yes, oh, I love it, I love it, I love it, yeah, so that's a great movie that I love. I love documentaries A lot, you know, just getting to know. Like I said, I love new places, I love new people, I love exploration, I love adventure. So, yeah, sometimes I just want to see something about Malaysia.

Desire:

I just want to see something about. Oh, why do some and some people like grasses where to ban? Why, you know? I just want to know more right now. Oh, a little bit of more, oh, okay. Why do people eat in this setting way? Why do they serve their food? Oh, how do they cook this food you? Know I just love yeah and documentaries one one way I get to learn some of this things.

Gurasis:

So, speaking of food, is it any one dish or food or something that you can eat for the rest of your life?

Desire:

Well, to be honest, I I don't have any favorites. Okay, I, I eat anything that comes my way and I try, I like to try other people's food. Oh, that culture food, I love it. So I really do have any preference. But if there's anything I won't get tired of eating, it would be maybe jollof rice. Jollof rice is the local yeah.

Gurasis:

It's the best. Yeah.

Desire:

Oh really! Yeah, yeah, I cook. You can cook it in different ways. Yeah, you know you could be. We could put vegetables on it, we could put chicken. You know you could just, yeah, Improvise as you like. Yeah, I love jollof rice.

Gurasis:

Yeah, okay, so describe Canada in one word or a sentence.

Desire:

Canada is Amazing. In one word, canada is amazing it's it's freedom. It's freedom. This is a country that allows you to be anything you want to be. There are several religions here Recognized. We have different communities. We have the Indian community, yeah. We have the Nigerian community. We have the Somalian community, yeah. We have the Sudanese community. We have the Turkish. I've met different communities, yeah, and everyone thriving, everyone doing well, and that's one of the things I tried to tell my people back home. I live in a country that has brought Different people together. I mean different people from different parts of the world, different languages, and everyone is living well, yeah, leaving us brothers and sisters. So why should we be fighting with ourselves back home? So I tell, try to tell them these things from time to time. Yeah.

Desire:

So again, Canada is freedom. Yeah, Canada is amazing.

Gurasis:

Love that and if you could leave me, does it ever one piece of advice, what would it be?

Desire:

Yeah, it's simple and I've said that before Keep pushing. You be a go-getter, go after your dream. Accents are a reflection of a person's linguistic background and you know they could carry cultural or regional connotations. However, beyond that accent is intelligence. Beyond that accent is a conqueror. Beyond that accent is a is a fighter. Whatever your dreams are, whatever your goals are, keep pushing and you get your dream results.

Gurasis:

Thanks for that! And how would you describe your experience of being on this podcast?

Desire:

Amazing. I mean this is one of the best things I have done. Oh, I came into Canada. I've done a couple, you know, media sessions, but this is one of the best because it gives me the opportunity to talk about me, to talk about my identity, to talk about my personality, to talk about my struggles, to talk about how I overcame my struggles. So this is a wonderful platform and I mean I didn't think twice to want to be part of this. I didn't think twice at all.

Gurasis:

Yeah, thanks to you, grasses, thanks to you for putting together no, thank you for being on the podcast and adding value to my listeners, and I just want to conclude by saying to our listeners that next time someone asks you where are you from, consider it as an invitation to connect and educate rather than taking offense.

Desire:

Absolutely. Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah.

Gurasis:

Perfect. Thank you so much as they for being on the podcast and adding value to my listeners. Thank you.

Desire:

I really appreciate you having me again. It's been an awesome experience. I'm gonna tell everyone oh, I went on podcast today with Gurasis is talking about my accent. Do I really have an accent? Sometimes I ask that question, Do I really have an accent? And they'll be like ah, yeah, you do.

Gurasis:

Well, I think we all do. We all have our unique accents, which are unique to ourselves, and that's what makes us US.

Desire:

Absolutely.

Gurasis:

Okay, thanks. Thanks a lot, hey, listener. Thank you for making it to the end. I highly highly appreciate you listening the podcast. Subscribe to the podcast if you haven't as yet, and please share with your friends or anybody you think would like it. And, like I always say, we encourage you to follow your heart, but also ask on Instagram. The handle is @MyThickAccent. You can also leave us a review or write to us at Hello@mythickaccent. com. So stay tuned and let's continue knowing each other beneath the accent.

Embracing Cultural Diversity and Bridge Gaps
Tackling Language Barrier in Cyprus
Relocating to Canada
Impressions of Canada and Cultural Differences
Navigating "Where Are You From?" Question
Career Transitions and Success in Canada
Volunteering and Building Networks in Canada
Canada's Future Plans and Cultural Integration