Growing up in New Delhi, Suresh Choudhary sensed a curiosity bubbling inside of him to see the world. He wanted to study overseas and after considering many schools around the globe, a small town college in Canada won his heart over.
“I didn't want to go to another city because it would just be a similar experience and I thought that I should try something new,” Choudhary says.
“I wanted to do everything differently than what my family expected of me, so I picked Terrace.”
Choudhary arrived in Terrace without a place to stay and ended up at a hotel as he tried to figure out where to live. He called his parents in India to tell them that everything was great but in reality, he was upset with himself for not securing accommodation and nervous about the school year ahead.
“I was super homesick, my English was not that great and I didn't have any confidence. I was scared to approach people here in their language because I was afraid of saying something wrong.”
Despite the rough start, Choudhary says coming to Coast Mountain College has been life changing. After celebrating a birthday alone in his room, he decided it was up to him to meet new people. He volunteered to become a Leader in Action, attended every school event and then marched into the Skeena Diversity Centre (a local community hub for newcomers to Canada) to ask for help with his resume.
“They helped me and the next day, I got a job. I was so happy and just overwhelmed with their kindness. They didn't know me but they still helped me,” Choudhary recalls.
“I wanted to return that favour and I was eager to learn more, so I ended up spending all my extra time at Skeena Diversity and learned how important it was to connect with community.”
Ran by a core group of women who also immigrated here, Choudhary was welcomed with great enthusiasm and treated like a son. Helping run weekly activities and dinners, he knew immediately he had found a place that felt like home.
“I was a part of their family... and I knew that this is the place where I could do something for the community here,” he says.
Choudhary formed a bridge between the College and the Skeena Diversity Society, inviting other international students to come learn English through laughter and good food. He even organized Holi celebrations in Terrace.
When his birthday circled back again, he celebrated it with dozens of new friends that he had made in just his first year in Canada. It was an emotional realization how far he had come in a new country.
Choudhary graduated with a diploma from Business Administration in 2020 and has decided to stay in Terrace as he believes the city is bubbling with potential. He is now employed by the Skeena Diversity Centre where he helps new immigrants settle into Canada by teaching them English and computer skills while also encouraging them to become involved with the community.
“There’s so much diversity at the College and I think everyone has something special to offer as Terrace grows,” he says.
“I tell them that I know how hard it is to adjust but you are welcomed here and if you do something good, people notice... that’s why living here has really brought the best out of me.”