It’s not every day you meet a clown. Yulia Sultan-Shakh performs for birthday parties and special events with dances, games, face-painting and balloon art.
Yulia came to Canada in July 2012 from Israel, having moved there at six from her homeland in the former Soviet Union. While she considered Israel a good place to live, after two years in the army she began to think about immigrating. “I didn’t want my children to serve in the army, especially if it isn’t quiet. It can become dangerous.”
She had earned her Bachelor of Education degree and worked as an elementary school teacher and also in customer service in a bank. Yulia traveled to New Jersey where she spent a year working with a family as an Au Pair, caring for their children and teaching them Hebrew. She traveled throughout the United States.
Yulia still hoped to come to Canada. “I met Alexander my husband and he had the same dreams. Canada welcomed us although we didn’t know Halifax at all. We saw a little point on the map!” They connected online with others here with knowledge to share.
“My husband loved it here right away but for the first months I couldn’t find myself here. I asked, what am I going to do here?” Yulia says she had dreamt of going to Toronto where there is a Russian community, but after a few months she made friends in Nova Scotia. “People are very polite. I have just parked my car and they’re already holding the door to the building open for me. I take it with humour.”
ISIS is recognized and you’re proud to put on your resume that you did courses here.
Yulia had contacted ISIS before arriving. “It was a smart thing to do. I like ISIS very much.” She took English courses and spoke to an Employment Specialist. “She was very nice and spoke to us by Skype. She sent 20 websites about teaching.”
Yulia needs fluent English and writing skills to work as a teacher so she studied English further here. “The teachers give you a good feeling that you’re improving.” She also took Pre-Employment workshops on how to write cover letters, update her resume and find employment. “ISIS is recognized and you’re proud to put on your resume that you did courses here. People get to know me as a person and it’s an opportunity to meet people in the same boat as me. I would love to work here!”
Her husband is an engineer but works as a web programmer for an Israeli company. Julia works as a volunteer in a Russian and Hebrew pre-school. She also clowns at birthday parties, Hallowe’en parties and other events. She performs in Hebrew and Russian and hopefully one day in English. She attended the ISIS holiday open house as a clown.
“I would like to be a hospital clown. I’m sensitive to people and a smile makes a difference.” Julia is confident about her future. “This is a new language and there are new people to deal with. If you’re positive, things will be okay.”