By Valentina Ruiz Leotaud. Translated by Yajaira Morán and Genevieve Ayukawa
- Appreciate that you are in a country where many cultures get along
- Build friendships with people from different backgrounds
- Preserve your own culture. If you have children, teach them Spanish
- Show the beauty of your culture: being a responsible citizen that respects the system where you live now
Diana Souki is the physical representation of multiculturalism. Yes, the thing that many talk about in Canada, but also what we have a lot of in Venezuela.
When she speaks Spanish, her tone and accent is a confirmation of her “caraqueñidad” (Caracas-native). At the same time, her features and her signs of identity let us have a glimpse of her Lebanese roots. As if that were not enough, Diana has lived in Canada for 18 years, this fact makes her a real citizen of Canada.
“I decided to start studying and working at the same time. I worked during the day as teacher’s assistant and was going to school in the evenings,” she said.
Educated among different cultures, Diana knows how important it is to be open and initiate friendships with people from different backgrounds. She also knows how crucial it is to communicate those values of openness to the little ones. Using this belief, she dedicated her life to working with children, in many different aspects.
Currently, she runs the non-profit organization PJ Kids Club &Preschool in West Vancouver, where she organizes everything from pre-school curriculums to before-and-after school programs and to spring and summer camps for children 2 to 11 years old.
“Working with kids has been always my passion. I discovered this after I had my first children. They are twins!” she stated.
Of course, everything was not easy when she arrived in Vancouver for the first time. To her surprise, to enter in the job market in the field of maternity/newborns was not so simple: “I decided to start studying and working at the same time. I worked during the day as teacher’s assistant and was going to school in the evenings,” she said.
Those late nights of burning the midnight oil while studying, earning only $9 per hour, and, in addition, taking care of my children was surpassed a long time ago. However, Diana said that the lesson she learned will last for ever. “To survive here, you have to work hard, and not feel embarrassed! This country taught me to not bite more than I can chew and that any job is respectable.
Accept help no matter where it is coming from and offer help in return. That mutual support will build a solid and lasting relationship. This has been another one of great lessons learned by this Venezuelan. “Always be proud of your Venezuelan roots, those are very important,” she advised.
And because she has too much pride for her vernacular foundation, this year she faced many controversies related to Venezuela’s participation in the Canada Day Parade. Her goal this year was to ensure Venezuela’s participation in that event. She concluded that although it is tough for Venezuelans to celebrate during the political crisis Venezuela is currently facing, we are very grateful to Canada for generously opening its doors.
To contact Diana and learn more about PJ Kids Club and Preschool, you may contact her at dianasouki1 AT gmail DOT com