During Simon and Lars’ adventures around the world, they often envisioned a quieter life for themselves outside of Hamburg, Germany. “We were getting tired of city life. We’d travel to places we liked and start dreaming that we’d retire there one day,” Simon reflects.
In 2017, the couple travelled to British Columbia and were overwhelmed by its beauty. “We loved it. The people are friendly, and the nature is just breathtaking. So we thought, why do we have to wait until we’re older? Why don’t we just stay here?” says Simon.
“Before coming to Canada, I’d spent decades working in the corporate world and started feeling it was time for a change of perspective,” says Lars, whose enrollment into the Hospitality Management program at Selkirk College helped determine the couple’s move to Nelson, a place they’re thrilled to call home. Lars used to work for Warner Bros., who have brought us films like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Now he’s thrilled to implement his education at the Hume Hotel & Spa in Nelson.
“I have a lot of encounters with amazing people every day, and I love helping people go from having a great moment to a truly memorable, unique experience. Hospitality is a microcosm of different challenges and things to consider.”
Although jumping into a classroom setting in his forties was not without challenges, Lars is grateful to have met many interesting people. “At some point, if you don’t do anything new in your life, your comfort zones become very small. We figured there would be obstacles to overcome, but with the right people and some time, we could embark on this journey successfully.”
“Living in Nelson is a bit different from our previous metropolitan life,” added Lars. “There’s a small-town flair, and everything is connected. Suddenly, we encounter people on the street and know them by name. There’s an openness and friendliness that feels like one great garden party, and whoever passes by gets an invitation.”
“Not a day goes by that we don’t discover something new about the city and what it has to offer. It’s such a great adventure.” Simon adds, “It’s super helpful to have this community feeling, and that’s what makes Nelson so special.” Simon, who was a teacher in Germany, now happily works at School District 8 (Kootenay Lake) as an Assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer.
On top of their respective careers, the couple also spend time tutoring. Lars is a peer tutor for economic and computer classes at Selkirk College and Simon is a private math tutor. “Even though we’re in a different age cohort than most people immigrating to Canada, we can help people with our experience and the knowledge we’ve gained over the years,” says Lars.
It’s because of the West Kootenay Rural & Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program that Lars and Simon can remain in Canada, sharing their knowledge and building their community. “Canada encourages people to immigrate to cover gaps in the workforce, but they’re usually looking for people with work experience below 30,” says Simon. “If you have a lot of work experience, you’re probably naturally over that threshold, so it’s important to look for a program that helps with the process of being chosen. RNIP does that.”
“Erin was amazing because we had a person to talk to,” adds Simon, about RNIP’s regional coordinator. “With the express entry program, you might wait months for a response, which can be nerve-wracking. It was good to have someone there telling us that we could actually make it.”
Simon and Lars are great examples of applicants who successfully made it through RNIP, a program that changes lives.