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Immigrant Of The Month – Samuel Uche Akuma

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Name: Samuel Uche Akuma
Career: Technical Consultant at IBM
Country of Origin: Nigeria
Moved to Canada: 2018
City: Toronto
Journey in one word: Tenacity

For the month of June 2021, The Immigrant Life is putting the spotlight on Samuel Uche Akuma whose demonstration of dedication and resilience is worthy of a public acclaim.

Having gone through a most trying time in Nigeria, he developed resilience and tenacity. He learned how to look adversity in the face and move forward, despite the challenges he faces. That habit of finding optimism and developing a positive can-do-attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune has served him very well in Canada.

For instance, he found unique ways to learn, adapt and excel. Did you ever think of recording your lectures when you could not understand what they were teaching and referring to? Listening to it repeatedly at your own convenience?

How about leaving for your destination ahead of time because you can get lost and will need time to recover if you do?

Those are some strategies Samuel took to understand the language, culture, and nuances when he was fresh in Canada.

His journey to and in Canada highlights some great lessons that we hope will inspire you in this month of June.

As a new immigrant to Canada, Samuel had to adjust to many things, just like all immigrants. One of those was accent. He adopted a unique strategy to get through and understand what was being spoken. “I did a crazy thing,” he says reminiscing about those initial classes when he had a difficulty understanding his professors. He recorded all the classes he took in the first term that he would listen while doing chores or commuting.

Many people who move to Canada initially face a hard time with the way things function or rather how impeccably organized things are around here. The beauty of a country like Canada with all its systems in place is that there are resources available at every step. Samuel recommends making use of the information, taking a closer look at everything, observing and absorbing. “Leave early for appointments, that way even if you get lost you learn and reach your destination on time,” he recommends.

Many people who move to Canada initially face a hard time with the way things function or rather how impeccably organized things are around here. The beauty of a country like Canada with all its systems in place is that there are resources available at every step.

When it comes to learning the ways of life and system, immigrants have access to not just troves of information, but organizations and associations set up to help one whether it is learning the language or to understand Canadian workplace culture. “Be thorough,” he says for when you get a document about anything. “Be on the path to continuously improving yourself.”

Samuel rose through a series of tragedies with diligence and determination.

There is not one blueprint that applies exclusively to immigrants when it comes to moving up and ahead in life, but to all of humanity. Perseverance. Never giving up. Emerging stronger when life throws curve balls at you. Samuel has been extended helping hands by another immigrant in Canada and he is ready to do the same.

Samuel lost his mother early in life but her approval of things he did right stayed on with him for life. While his father shouldered the responsibility of raising six kids, Samuel took up teaching gigs that helped pay for his early college education. The spell of misfortune continued when he lost his father, followed by his sister.

“Every time you feel this is the worse – things could go more worse. Or better,” he says. He held on strongly despite all odds with a focus on making something out of his life. And he did.

The values and virtues that you hold dear in your country of origin comes in handy anywhere you go and that formed the ladder for success.

For the last three years, Samuel has called Canada his home with support from another immigrant, his father’s friend who came to the rescue when things were going downhill for him.

“My dad made me understand the value of friendship. When he passed on, his best friends were the ones who came for our help,” Samuel is quick to acknowledge the importance of human relationships and what one can do to the other stating, “friendship is like insurance.”

Samuel studied Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo and is currently working with IBM in Toronto.

Highly influenced by the book, Eat That Frog, Samuel believes in prioritizing, getting the job done and constantly learning as well as sharing stories of his immigrant journey to inspire one another. He shares his story to encourage more people like him who might think it easy to give up when facing adversity. “I have learned to swim while drowning and it is not a unique talent,” he says in hopes of motivating others to never give up.

“Resilience is not like patience or waiting.” It is about growing in spite of misery and despondency. His mantras for progress and success are simple but profound. Manage your energy better, he says. “You have to be careful with what you give your energy to.”

Most immigrants come from culture of memorizing which impedes creativity. Samuel attests to the power of the subconscious and asks that as new immigrants it is important for us to create habit of creating a plan, tracking our progress however small that maybe. “It takes time to develop a habit. Be consistent. Make it a part of you.”

Samuel has come a long way from his village in Nigeria to build a successful life in Canada when he took a first flight out of his homeland. He looks forward to helping young people and others alike. “I have been helped a lot.”

That is what he aspires to. Inspire new immigrants and youth.

He is ready to give back.

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