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Nusrat Awan's Story of Resilience

Nusrat Awan’s experience during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is, at times, hard for her to put into words.

So, she put pencil to paper and expressed her heartfelt thoughts through art. Her drawing, which she shared for BVC Care’s Letter of Connection, features two hands interlocking with pinky fingers. The words, “We Are All In This Time Together and Unite” are artfully written above the hands. It is a message she hopes will encourage other students during this difficult time – but it’s also meant to remind herself to stay positive.

Nusrat is an English language learning student at Bow Valley College. She immigrated to Canada from Pakistan in August 2013, and she is a proud single mother of three children under the age of six. 

She has faced multiple challenges, including being a domestic abuse survivor and the only adult to support her children. She also had to adapt to culture shock and new realities as a newcomer in Canada.

“I almost lost my courage at the first footstep of my independent life,” she says. “However, with the help of various supportive people, I plucked up my courage, confidence, and self-esteem.” 

When confronted with any obstacle, her coping strategy is to have confidence in her thoughts, capabilities, and resources — and then find a solution. 

“To have faith in my thoughts, I developed the habit of self-motivation and self-talk,” Nusrat says. “Self-talk is your inner dialogue, and it can be positive or negative, encouraging or discouraging. It all depends on your attitude towards life.” 

Positive self-talk has helped her persevere through life’s challenges, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. When schools, colleges, and daycares closed, Nusrat was confronted with the stress of being a full-time mother, student, and homeschooling teacher. 

“It was a very demanding time initially, but it took one night of positive self-talk to re-schedule everything in my life to overcome and deal with all the challenges,” she says. “I scheduled our daily routines, my kids’ homeschooling time, my Teams class time, our craft time, our screen time, our yoga time, and our free playtime to help myself and my children stay on track.”

She was pleased to see how soon her children adapted to the new routine. 

“We get tired sometimes,” she acknowledges. “But it is that inner thought which will help us to start again with more strength. For example, instead of saying, ‘there is no way this routine will work,’ I try to say that, ‘I can and will give it all to make it work.’”

Nusrat has some advice for her fellow students facing challenges: “Think about everything good you have in your life, and it will inspire you to fight and stay strong through hard times.” 

Learner Success Services counsellors are available for emotional support. Video and telephone appointments can be booked by emailing counselling@bowvalleycollege.ca. Please visit this Learner Success Services link and click on the “Contact Learner Success Services” button for information about how to access services for students, including academic advising and financial aid. Please visit this link for a list of resources and support services available in Calgary, including information about accessing The Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter and its 24-hour Family Violence Helpline, 403-234-SAFE (7233).
 

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