By Shabana Ansari

When Mimi Do moved to Canada from her native Vietnam a little more than a year ago, she was looking forward to continuing her career in digital marketing and having an exciting social life.

“I had stars in my eyes and it felt like I could do anything I wanted to in this welcoming country,” recalls Mimi.

However, she began to lose some of her enthusiasm when months of job searching did not yield any results.

“I started wondering if I had done the right thing in leaving behind a flourishing career in my home country. The one question I kept asking myself was: what am I doing with my new life in Ottawa? I have no job, no friends, no support network. I wanted to go back to my comfort zone – back to the security of a well-paying job that I loved, and the support of friends and family back in my country of origin.”

Lonely, friendless and a bit unsure of herself, Mimi thought about ways to make things work for her.

“I was so stressed out and confused. All I wanted was someone to listen to what I was going through, give me a big hug and tell me that everything would be okay.”

Determined to make the best of her situation, Mimi hit upon a brilliant plan to not only make new friends in a new city but to also help others struggling with the same issues. She combined her professional skills (digital marketing and event management) with her soft skills (positive attitude and adaptability) and created an online community for newcomers in Ottawa.

What started off with a handful of new immigrants Mimi knew in the city has grown into a thriving Facebook community of almost 900 members in just a few months! The members, who come from all over the world, have only two things in common – they are new to Canada’s capital and are seeking to build their social network.

And the best thing is, they are active not just online but in real life, too! They meet for regular chats and outings, sample different cuisines, and attend cultural events across Ottawa. Mimi and her group also have ambitious plans for the future, including providing each other with professional tips and support whenever they can.

“Our aim is to help, share, network with each other, and create a sense of community”.

Mimi points out it’s easy to indulge in self-pity and blame external forces for our unhappiness.

“I realized very quickly that negativity was getting me nowhere, so I decided to look at the situation with new eyes. Creating a successful community is something that I never thought I could do. And maybe I would never have done any of this if I was not feeling so confused and unfulfilled. To be honest, being unhappy led me to create something awesome!”

Mimi, who is still looking for her dream job, points out she has learned a very valuable lesson as she struggles to establish herself professionally in Canada.

“All I need to do is keep moving forward. Through the group I do what I enjoy socially and what I am good at professionally.”

A strong believer in being positive and flexible under any circumstances, Mimi feels that optimism has the power to change lives.

“I don’t want to sound boastful, but I am really proud of what I have achieved so far with the Newcomers In Ottawa group – I have made friends for life who support and build up each other, and I am constantly showcasing my digital marketing and event management skills. Now I am just looking forward to things getting better and better – socially and professionally – both for me and all my group members.”