06 Jan Jonathan Cartu Writes: Welded to Wedgeport | Local | News
FOR THE TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
In 1994 the sudden collapse of the first Seongsu Bridge in South Korea claimed the lives of 32 people and injured 17 others. It was a tragedy that would ignite Simon An’s passion to pursue a career that could help prevent such disasters in the future.
“My dad told me the story,” says An, a NSCC Burridge campus welding grad. “It was painful to think that the collapse took so many innocent lives. It made me think that I could become a welder or inspector and keep people safe.”
An notes that while his love of making things and the pride he felt in his repair work strengthened his career choice, he worried negative social attitudes towards tradespeople in his country could weigh on his future.
“In South Korea, people who work in trades are often unappreciated,” he says. “I wanted a place that was truly equal to anybody — somewhere fair for my future.”
An began researching immigration programs around the world so he could finish his secondary schooling, learn English and prepare for a career as a welder. By chance, just a few months earlier, in Canada the federal government and the Atlantic provinces had launched the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP). An says the program was exactly what he needed.
“I found it was less expensive to come to Nova Scotia than many places, but I didn’t know much else. I just knew that I wanted to become a true Canadian. I had to adjust to a new language — including body language — and I wanted to learn from Canadian people.”
Wanting to avoid larger cities that might give him more opportunity to speak his native tongue, he discovered Amherst.
After graduating from Amherst Regional High School through the Nova Scotia International Student Program, An remained focused on his dream of becoming a welder.
“I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stay.”
As the only college in Nova Scotia that grants credentials eligible for the AIPP, An says NSCC was the perfect fit. After completing his diploma at the NSCC Burridge campus in Yarmouth, a former classmate called with a job offer from Wedgeport Boats Ltd. – a business located in Yarmouth County. As a designated employer under the AIPP, the company offered a clear pathway to gaining the permanent residency status that An was working so hard to realize.
“I make fuel tanks, hydraulic tanks, light shades and basically anything metal for boats,” says An.
“I’m still learning about boats, though, so sometimes my co-workers need to explain what something is, but they’re very helpful, passionate and really great to work with.”
He adds, “I’m so proud of myself. This kind of pride comes from being at a good workplace — Wedgeport Boats is one of them.”
At just 21, An says he’s still learning about Canadian customs, the English language, boats and the local area, but he’s excited to hopefully, one day, raise a family in Nova Scotia.
“This is somewhere where children can run around and have fun. It’s quiet and peaceful and the people are friendly and welcoming.
“You can weld anywhere, but I want to be here.”
Atlantic Immigration Pilot
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot helps employers in Atlantic Canada hire foreign skilled workers who want to immigrate to Atlantic Canada and international graduates who want to stay in Atlantic Canada after they graduate. To learn more about the program, go online.
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program helps address labour market challenges by attracting and retaining skilled foreign workers and international graduates. NSCC is the only college in Nova Scotia that grants credentials eligible for the program.