It was while dancing Albina discovered her love for Canada. Having come from Syria to Canada in 2010 to perform in a cultural festival in Toronto where she choreographed and danced in a show about Syrian history, Albina fell in love with the country and knew it was a place she wanted to call home.
After her trip to Toronto, Albina and her husband applied for a Visa to move, but it was only after moving from Syria to Qatar, then again to Dubai, that Albina and her family officially moved to Canada.
"My husband and I owned a theatre in Syria with over 100 dancers, and then ballet academies in both Qatar and Dubai, so it took time to get everything in order before we left for Canada," says Albina. "Burlington was new to us, but we had heard it was a wonderful place to raise kids."
While they loved their new home, Albina knew it would be a big adjustment for her family. "We didn't know anything about Burlington coming here. It was especially difficult for my children; the winter was a big shock for them!"
After coming to Centre for Skills Development to learn English, Albina soon realized the program taught her more than just the language. "Not only did we learn English, but we learned English by discussing things we should know about Canadian culture, or business management," says Albina. "I owned a theatre and ballet company but never took a management course, so I was able to apply what I learned to my work. It helped tremendously."
Today, Albina still owns her ballet academy in Dubai, as well as registered a ballet academy in Canada called Enana Dance Theatre. Enana Dance Theatre runs from a studio in a recreation centre close to Albina's house and is expanding to another location next month.
"We have given two performances at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, and we were so happy to see our teachers from Centre for Skills in the audience supporting us both times," says Albina.
Albina has also given a presentation to the ELT class at Centre for Skills, sharing her story and hoping to keep them motivated. "Coming to this country, many immigrants have to completely start over; you have to prove yourself all over again while having to learn a new language and adjust to a whole different lifestyle. I wanted to talk to other newcomers and tell them: 'Continue proving who you are, with hard work you will reach your results.'"