Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
BY TINA HENNIGAR
How did Samir Upadhyay, a young business student from India,find himself waist deep in snow in St. John’s, Newfoundland? “If I tell you, you won’t believe me,” said Upadhyay, “but I literally opened [a] map and ended up going there.”“I came to Canada as an international student in 2010,” hesaid. “I finished my studies in Toronto…[and] I wanted to move somewhere outside of Ontario to start my life after my studies.”
Upadhyay has lived in Toronto, Newfoundland, Halifax, and Ottawa. His career advanced quickly in Halifax, but he wanted to live in a smaller town. So, when he was offered an opportunity to manage a cell phone business in the Bridgewater Mall, he decided to give it a try. He stayed for two years by himself, returning to India to get married, and eventually was able to bring his wife to live with him in Bridgewater. They both enjoy the town and the friendly, welcoming community.
Every day Upadhyay meets locals and newcomers who come to his mall kiosk to get set up with cell phones. This is where he connected with a woman who worked as an Outreach Settlement Staff person with the YMCA. She was about to go on maternity leave and suggested that he apply for the position. It was a perfect fit.
“My work is to provide a settlement service to the newcomers,” here to stay said Upadhyay. “I try to make them feel the same about what I feel about this town. I tell them about how welcoming it is.” Connecting with newcomers comes naturally for him, since he understands many of the challenges they face. He helps them
decide the best area to live, find suitable employment, and settle their children into school.
He tells them about multicultural festivals, cultural gatherings,and invites them to meet other newcomer families. People move here from India, China, Germany, Russia, Mexico, and other places - when they connect with new and familiar communities, he said, “they get a good feeling.” When one of his clients wants to start a business, Upadhyay supports them however he can. He has helped someone open a laundromat in Bridgewater, an Indian restaurant in Caledonia,
and has a client who wants to open a Syrian restaurant in the area.
Upadhyay enjoys connecting with people and giving back to the community. His third job is substitute bus driver for the public transit service in Bridgewater, and he recently joined the fire department as a volunteer.
Community connections make all the difference for newcomers who are deciding whether or not to stay. “When you see that someone is new,” said Upadhyay, “it doesn’t harm to just say ‘Hi. Hello. How are you?’... It always helps.”