Friendly faces

New website pro­files im­mi­grant suc­cess sto­ries in P.E.I.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MACDON­ALD

Ga­gan­deep Sehgal has ex­pe­ri­enced first-hand some of the chal­lenges that im­mi­grants can face when mov­ing to Canada.

Hav­ing im­mi­grated from In­dia over five years ago, Sehgal knows the dif­fi­cul­ties as­so­ci­ated with cul­tural shock.

He also noted that, for him­self, set­tling in a new home wasn’t as dif­fi­cult as it can be for some.

“In In­dia, English is a widelyspo­ken lan­guage, but for many im­mi­grants, es­pe­cially refugees, who come from dif­fer­ent coun­tries learn­ing a new lan­guage is a very big chal­lenge,” said Sehgal, adding that other ma­jor chal­lenges can in­clude find­ing hous­ing as well as others to re­late to.

“In Toronto and big­ger cities you won’t feel (cul­ture shock) as much be­cause there’s a lot of peo­ple. When you move to P.E.I., es­pe­cially five years ago, there was hardly any­one here from In­dia.”

Sehgal and four friends, who have also im­mi­grated, are hop­ing to cre­ate some aware­ness of those chal­lenges while cel­e­brat­ing suc­cess sto­ries on their new website, “Na­maste, World!”

The site fea­tures videos and short ar­ti­cles pro­fil­ing Is­land im­mi­grants they de­scribe as “he­roes.”

Sehgal said there has been a lot of con­tro­versy and mis­in­for­ma­tion about im­mi­grants and pointed to­wards de­bate over the is­sue in U.S. pol­i­tics.

“We wanted to give a pos­i­tive spin to that,” he said. “We’ve all been through it and some­one who has been through that stage knows what it takes to move to a new coun­try and set­tle in a new place.”

The five pro­files re­leased in “sea­son one” have in­cluded im­mi­grants who be­came P.E.I. en­trepreneurs.

“The re­sponse has def­i­nitely been pos­i­tive,” said Seng­hal, not­ing that the group re­ceived an over­whelm­ing re­sponse dur­ing Char­lot­te­town’s Di­verseCity Fes­ti­val.

He said the group hopes to even­tu­ally pro­file im­mi­grants out­side of P.E.I. as well.

The word na­maste is a greet­ing and in In­dia has a spir­i­tual mean­ing of “I bow to the di­vine in you”. The name is also a play on the “Hello, World!” com­puter pro­gram­ming lan­guage, which is of­ten used to in­tro­duce be­gin­ners to writ­ing code.

Sehgal and he and an­other in the group both work in the IT sec­tor, while two work in busi­ness and an­other is study­ing biotech­nol­ogy.

Be­cause of their work, the website is a side project. How­ever, the group hopes to re­lease a sec­ond sea­son of P.E.I. pro­files in Oc­to­ber.

“We’re get­ting to a point where we want to do more sto­ries and we def­i­nitely need some help and are look­ing at what we can do to ex­pand,” said Sehgal, adding that he has reached out to P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauch­lan.

He said the ini­tia­tive has also re­ceived sup­port from the P.E.I. As­so­ci­a­tion for New­com­ers to Canada.

“They’ve been quite help­ful in giv­ing us con­tacts for peo­ple who want to share their sto­ries and have also been very help­ful in get­ting the word out.”

STEPHEN BRUN/THE GUARDIAN

Ga­gan­deep Sehgal, seated, and his team from Na­maste World, from left, Prashanth Gunti, Vi­mal Ra­maka, Alka­rim Bhale­sha and Adi Vella, ham it up with the statue of Sir John A. Macdon­ald in Char­lot­te­town. Their new website pro­files im­mi­grant suc­cesses in Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

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