07 Jul COA opens a new regional training site in Mexico
COA Mexico is a brand new permanent training site, based in the IOM office in Mexico City. This permanent site will primarily provide immigrant training sessions, but refugee training sessions can also be provided whenever there is a need. COA Mexico will eventually act as a regional hub and provide orientation to countries in Central America and the Caribbean. Meet the COA team in Mexico City and hear abour their first pre-departure session, delivered to a group of 13 Federal Skilled Workers on May 20th, 2015.
Daniela GelosoCOA Coordinator and Facilitator
In accordance with the referral policy in place at the Embassy of Canada in Mexico, invitations to attend a COA orientation were sent to applicants at the beginning of their immigration processing.
The majority of participants who attended the first session resided in the capital, Mexico City, while others came from as far as Monterrey, in the North-Eastern part of the country, or Acapulco, on the Pacific Coast. COA could not expect a better group for its first delivery of an orientation session. The group was predominantly composed of young and well educated couples, most of whom had already traveled to Canada as tourists or students. All possessed a good command of English and a few of them also spoke French. According to feedback comments received at the closing of the session, the session content and format was very appreciated by all participants.
All presented topics generated much interest, but those that generated the most chatter and questions were those related to preparing and finding a job in Canada. They were really very attentive during the video presentation. One participant was curious to know how to set up a business in Canada; while another enquired on how networking works and whether there were any exercises on how to network in Canada. They were provided with additional tools and resources to continue their learning beyond the group orientation.
Participants were grateful to IOM Mexico for arranging this orientation and to the Government of Canada for allowing them to come together, as a group, to discuss their imminent move and challenges. All in all, participants and trainer felt that it was a full day well spent. Everyone gained something new and empowering.
COA Mexico Coordinator and Facilitator Daniela Geloso with a group of Economic Immigrants from the first COA session delivered in Mexico on May 20th, 2015.
Meet with Daniela Geloso, the COA coordinator and facilitator in IOM Mexico:
How did you become facilitator for the Canadian Orientation Abroad project?
I have been working for twelve years as an immigration officer for the Quebec Ministry of Immigration. My duties have taken me to over 20 countries and, some years back, I had the opportunity to participate in a COA session in the Kakuma refugee camp located in Kenya. I have always considered IOM as an organization whose mandate was very close to my professional interests. This is why I decided to take a one-year leave to start this journey with IOM. I am passionate about immigration and integration issues and my work as a COA facilitator allows me to continue working in this field, but from a different perspective. Furthermore, I am very happy to be back in Mexico where I was posted, as an immigration officer, for 2 years.
What does it entail to provide pre-departure orientation to newcomers to Canada?
I would say that since I started, I seek to find new and creative ways to increase the number of people attending our sessions. In collaboration with the Embassy of Canada in Mexico, COA is developing new ways to reach out to potential immigrants to Canada. Promoting the COA project is an important task at the start of any new project and much time is currently devoted to this aspect in Mexico City. Recently, in preparation for our first mobile training operation in Port-au-Prince, we translated all of our presentations in French and created a new online registration tool in Creole. Training preparation, however, continues to be my main priority. I want to develop my teaching skills in order to have the most interactive session possible. I need to master the content of the orientation and to explore all the other resources and tools that we refer to in the training room. I have to constantly stay updated on settlement issues in Canada.
Who are the participants that you will serve in and around Mexico City?
For the first session in Mexico City, only Skilled Workers where trained and the session was conducted in English. In the near future, Family Class applicants will also be invited and the session will likely be conducted in Spanish. One of the challenges is to get people from outside the Mexico City area to attend our COA session. Some came to our first session but not all of them. It is foreseeable that COA will travel to locations outside of Mexico City in order to train the maximum number of people selected for immigration to Canada.
What do you find the most challenging in being a COA facilitator? What is most rewarding?
The most challenging, for now, is to accept the fact that some of the people referred to COA by CIC Mexico are not availing of this unique opportunity to attend a pre-departure orientation session! I sometimes think that this session should be mandatory before anyone gets their visa! What I found the most rewarding in being a COA facilitator is the opportunity to talk about my country and, I hope, to make life easier for many apprehensive immigrants when they get to Canada.