By John Bkila

Paul Liu, 37, came to Canada with six boxes and a three-year plan. If he failed to land a job that could support his family, he would go back home to China.

jpg” alt=”Paul Liu is featured in 20 Journeys” width=”230″ height=”142″ />

Paul Liu reads his story, which is on display with the stories of 19 other immigrants in the Great Hall at the Mississauga Civic Centre.
The display, a visual essay of the immigrant experience, showcases the success stories
of people like Liu.

Photo by Steven Der-Garabedian

Fortunately for the Mississauga father of one, after participating in an internship program that led to a full-time information technology job working for the City of Mississauga, he can now unpack his boxes for good.

“Not only did it give my confidence a huge boost, but it let me apply myself,” said Liu, referring to Career Bridge, a not-for-profit internship program that helps immigrants find gainful employment.
Liu’s story is part of a traveling exhibit hosted by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

On display at the Civic Centre, 20 Journeys: A Visual Essay of the Immigrant Experience tells the stories of skilled immigrants who have successfully entered the local workforce, through photography and short narratives.

“It’s part of our awareness building work,” said Rodel Imbarlina-Ramos, TRIEC manager. “It’s intended to raise the profiles of the immigrant experience … to put a human face to the stories told.”

Since June 2006, the exhibit has made a dozen stops around the Greater Toronto Area. This is the second time it has come to Peel and the first time a Mississauga resident has been featured.
“The point of this exhibit is two-fold,” said Imbarlina-Ramos. “To let the employer community get to know the immigrant talent and to give hope to other skilled immigrants.”

Career Bridge helps immigrants like Liu land full-time jobs in their fields of expertise.

Lie left China in 2004. He brought his family to Canada because he had heard it was a land of opportunity – but all he found here were challenges.

“I didn’t get hired because of the language barrier and because I had no Canadian working experience,” he said. “I couldn’t even get hired at a coffee shop.”

Liu ended up working at a fast food restaurant for $6 an hour, a job he found by hiring an agent for $100.

Friends then told him about Career Bridge.

Through the organization, Liu landed a four-month internship as a technical writer with Mississauga’s Materiel Management department that buys and sells goods and services for the City.

His internship was extended twice and after a year, Liu was hired on as an intermediate buyer, purchasing IT products for Mississauga.

“It’s such a great program,” said Liu. “It bridges the gap between employer and employee and gives you a chance to prove yourself.”

Liu, who officially became a Canadian citizen last month, offers this advice for other skilled immigrants coming to the country.

“Stay positive and never give up. It’s such an amazing country, but you need to show employers your talent and potential.”

The traveling exhibit, which is free to the public, will be on display at the Great Hall until Monday, Feb. 23.

Reference: Mississauga News