Starting over in a new country is tough, especially without the support and camaraderie of friendship. Besides being in a wholly different place with its unfamiliar food, customs and culture, it can feel lonely without someone to share these new experiences with.
Arandu Alvarez and Guadalupe Pantoja found friendship while working at Gott’s Roadside Restaurant in Greenbrae three years ago. In addition to bonding through their shared country of origin, Mexico, and their mutual experience of immigrating to another county, Arandu credits Guadalupe as being the first friend that he made when he immigrated three and a half years ago. Even though Guadalope immigrated a lot longer, 23 years ago, she recognized a kindred spirit in Arandu.
When both attended the first session of our Workforce Development Program’s construction class in fall 2019, they were pleasantly surprised to see the other, both having been separately referred by different people to participate in the program. Being in the construction training program together further solidified their friendship, while also connecting them to skills training and employment opportunities in high-demand fields that offer living wage salaries.
Arandu and Guadalupe loved being in class together, helping each other with projects, and motivating each other to succeed. After completing the 10-week training program, Arandu was hired by Canal Alliance in April 2020 as a Contact Investigator Guadalupe continues to work at Gott’s Roadside Restaurant and is actively searching for work that utilizes her construction skills and certificate from College of Marin.
According to Regina Vindel, Canal Alliance Workforce Development Supervisor, having a friend is so helpful to many aspects of the program. It’s useful to get to know one’s peers and instructors. “You can feel more comfortable and supported to open up and engage in class when you know a friend is present”, she said.
One aspect of the friendship between Arandu and Guadalupe that makes it so successful is the trust that they have for each other, and their shared nonjudgmental outlook on life. The friends share a passion for helping others, enjoy learning, and experiencing new things. Arandu says Guadalupe has a strong ethical character, is extremely hard working, and is not afraid of obstacles. Guadalupe says Arandu is an excellent friend, very loyal and hard working.
According to Regina, “friendships like this one are important to the students in the Workforce Development Program. It shows other students in the class that building relationships within the community is essential for their success.”, she said.