Integration is not something that happens overnight, nor is it something that rests entirely on the shoulders of one individual. When we talk about integration, we must take in consideration that it is a long-term adaptation process that takes place between an individual and a society. It must result from a mutual understanding of the other. The process can be long and taxing for an individual, both on a bureaucratic and personal level. There is simply so much to learn!
Continuous education is one of the pillars of a successful integration for newly arrived residents of a country. Its educational impact is twofold: on a technical level, but also on a social one. In Quebec, not only can a local diploma accelerate the obtention of permanent resident status, it is one of the best ways to acclimatize to a new environment. While many AEC and DEP diplomas have high job-market value, such programs can also become a true anchor point for a person settling into a new life.
The AEC, or Attestation of College Studies, is a short technical program that can lead directly to the job market. As a one-year full-time program, it is a popular choice for international students or newly arrived permanent residents. Some institutions offering flexible hours or intensive formats to promote a balanced work-life schedule. Other individuals might choose to complete a DEP, or Diploma of Professional Studies, or even a certification to boost their résumés. Programs like these, given on site, come with a perk: the individual’s affiliation to an institution.
Simply put, such learning institutions are truly miniature societies. While there are many organisms dedicated to making resources available to newcomers, the value of such an organic social environment has proven its worth. Their classrooms gather locals as well as people having been in town for varying amounts of time who can exchange about their adaptation. Resourced are often made available to students, who gain advantages in other contexts as well: student’s discounts, access to networking events, admittance to conferences, etc.
Belonging to an institution is one of the many ways to become attached to a society as a whole: it is not only an opportunity to gain a diploma, it can be a place to exchange and evolve within the community.