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“I’m fascinated by technology,” says Walid Youssef, 42. In Egypt, Walid used YouTube to learn more about Canadian culture before arriving in Canada. Now he uses Skype, Tango and Messenger to keep in touch with his family. “I can speak and share video with my wife and my son, any time, for free.”
That same love for technology brought Walid to the YMCA. After applying for his physician’s license with the University of Manitoba, he was informed he needed a CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) assessment, which the YMCA of Greater Toronto, could provide him. Walid says he felt very welcome at the YMCA Language Assessment and Referral Centre, which provides free English language testing based on the CLB and makes referrals to free language programs such as LINC, ELT, OSLT and SLTPP. He achieved a very high result on his assessment and was then referred to the YMCA Newcomer Information Centre to receive more settlement support. Walid was so impressed by the careful attention and instruction he received by the assessor that he wrote a letter of appreciation to her.
Walid’s journey to Canada began quite a few years ago. “I used to dream every day that I’m in Canada.” He made the decision to move while in medical school and saved for seven years to make the trip, leaving behind a career as a doctor, his wife (also a doctor), his son, and a very comfortable home. They will join him after he has secured his dream job. For now, he is a student of the Health Informatics Program at George Brown College.
“I enjoy Canada. For the first time in my life, I feel I am a human being,” referencing Canada’s respect for diversity and human rights. As the first in his family to immigrate, he states, “This is a place where I feel secure for my baby, my brother, my sister, all my family. This is the best place to start a generation.”
With his language assessment complete, Walid is optimistic about university, his career, and his future here. His advice to other immigrants? “Just keep looking forward. Be positive. Be focused.” He adds, “I will be a leader in health information technology. This is the reason I came to Canada.”