New Scots Series

In this last profile in our #NewScots series meet Lily Jia from Chengdu in China.

Lily is a power mum. After living 40 years in China, she came to Scotland in 2015 to see her daughter through high school in Edinburgh.  She likes it here and plans to get stuck into voluntary work.
“I’d like to stay a long, long time and if I can get my residency I’ll settle here,” she says. “My daughter can be quite shy.  She just passed her GCSE exams and likes Chemistry, Geography and English. She is interested in becoming a psychologist.”
Like most new arrivals in Scotland, Lily wants to contribute.  “I’m looking for voluntary work. Maybe caring for old people. I want to connect with others, to listen to their story, to talk to them and make life easier for them.”
“The strangest thing here is that everyone makes appointments all the time. It’s the most important lesson I learned at the start. In China you normally pop in to see friends or even pop in to see the doctor. Here everything is very punctual and organised.”
Lily can often be found at the Conversation Café The Welcoming holds weekly to encourage new arrivals to practice their English.  “The Welcoming has helped me a lot, I can make friends here,” she says.  
This profile of Lily is the last in the current NewScots series.  “We’ve portrayed new arrivals from Romania, Brazil, Japan, Iraq, Spain, Syria, the Czech Republic, Egypt and The Dominican Republic.  They have shown how Scotland has attracted a rich variety of migrants and refugees who want to add to society and the economy,” says Elaine Mowat, Deputy Director at The Welcoming. 
The Welcoming’s #NewScots campaign welcomes donations to help migrants and refugees contribute to Edinburgh life.  Go to:

Previously in #NewScots:

Meet Marcelo Vidal Santos from Brazil.

Marc is a big, friendly giant from Brazil and he can run office buildings. He came to Edinburgh to learn English but he’s got a problem: himself.

“I’m an introvert by nature and when I came here I had to become an extrovert. I was alone and wanted to meet new people, talk to them, make new friends. It has been a fantastic experience.”

Marc is from Sao Paulo, a city of 12 million people where for two decades he  led the maintenance team at the 24-storey Banco do Brasil building. “I had to fix lighting, flooring, anything that was broken. Later I worked for the city council, checking to make sure the streets were swept properly.”

Two metres plus tall with a modest, gentle smile, Marc doesn’t expect to find similar jobs in Scotland right away. He attends English classes at the Welcoming where Leon Dalton, the Employability Tutor is helping him with his CV, applications and preparation for interviews. “Marc is highly qualified and should find appropriate work once his working English improves a notch or two. This is where The Welcoming can help. It’s clear Marc, like other newcomers, wants to contribute to Scotland,” Leon said.

Now he’s made the leap from Brazil into Scotland, Marc says he is ready to take on any kind of work that will help him learn the language.  “It could be in a cafe or shop, I don’t mind,” he adds.

The Welcoming runs the #NewScots campaign and welcomes donations to help migrants and refugees join and contribute to Edinburgh life.  Go to:


Previously in #NewScots:

Meet Veronica Mejias from Spain.

You might be seeing double when you see Veronica—or even triple.  This nursery nurse from Benidorm in Spain is one of triplet sisters living in the UK.

“And just to make it even more tricky, one sister, like Veronica, also works as  a nursery nurse in Edinburgh.  The third sister lives in York.  ”

“We get mistaken for one another all the time,” Veronica says with the ready smile you’d expect from a nursery nurse looking after 20 pre-school kids.

Staff cuts at a shop in Benidorm selling sofas was the signal for Veronica to move in 2014 and she decided to join her sisters in the UK.  “It was hard on my Mum but she is able to visit us.”

Veronica set about her learning curve in Scotland taking a day-release course at Edinburgh College to get a Higher National Certificate in Nursery care while she was working for a Nursery staffing agency.  For English classes she registered with The Welcoming and she attends the weekly Conversation Café sessions at The Welcoming where migrants and refugees build up their English.

“When it comes to learning, you really learn from the kids.” she says. “They have piles of energy and fun and watching them develop is an education in itself.  We sing and dance a lot.” That smile of hers is back—but bigger.

Caitlin Rodgers, Befriending Coordinator at The Welcoming adds: “Veronica is typical of the thousands of people making Scotland their new home. Yes, they have come here a better life and yes, they want to contribute to the economy and society.”

A visit to Scotland when she was a school girl plus her family links helped Veronica decide on the next step in her career.  “The dark in winter took some getting used to but now I love it here,” she says.

Veronica is the latest in The Welcoming’s #NewScots campaign which welcomes donations to help migrants and refugees contribute to Edinburgh life.  Go to:

Previously in #NewScots:

Meet Liviu Marian Resmerita from Romania.

Photo by @simon_hossack

Meet Liviu. For someone who likes hillwalking, he’s come to the right place: Edinburgh.  This 31-year old comes from Brasov in Romania, a city surrounded by hills which he used to explore.

“I love walking up and around Arthur’s Seat for exercise and the views,” he says.

Liviu was a skilled operator of computer controlled cutting machines at home but wanted a change. The Scottish capital has been his home for since May of this year, when his sister, a longer-term resident here, told him about Scotland and he made up his mind.  The year 2014 was the year that Romanian and Bulgarians gained the same rights as other EU citizens to work in the UK.

The Scottish Government has repeatedly stressed the importance of migrants to the society and economy,

Like many migrants Liviu has faced problems with language and finding a job. He has registered for English classes at The Welcoming and now has a job as a kitchen porter in the city.

“I’m here to learn,“ Liviu says,  “The future is good in Scotland for people ready to work hard and contribute to the economy.  For me, this is a real opportunity.”

It’s taken a while for him to make friends but Liviu is making headway.  “When I talk to the Scots they are always polite. I admire their strong sense of their history.”

The Welcoming is running a #NewScots campaign and welcomes donations to help migrants and refugees contribute to Edinburgh life.  Go to:

Previously in #NewScots:

Meet Hidetoshi Sakuma from Japan.

Photo by @simon_hossack

Hidetoshi means “handsome” in Chinese and “clever” in Japanese.

Hidetoshi is a visiting researcher from Japan. His research is in Marketing and Business Administration and he would love to carry out research into the retail industry here in the Scotland.

He is enjoying his experience of being a #NewScot and has been touched by his warm welcome here in Edinburgh.

“I left my wife and children in Tokyo. Only my eldest son is in Edinburgh with me.” However, he says, “It is very nice The Welcoming is in Edinburgh. Scottish people are very welcoming. I like being in Edinburgh. You are very kind and friendly.”

Hidetoshi has an interest in Scottish culture and the outdoors so Edinburgh couldn’t be a better place for him.

He tells us, “I love Edinburgh. It is full of nature, history and culture. It is easy to live in this city. It is easy to buy goods and use transport.

Also, Scotland has many hills. Japan has a lot of trees and mountains, but they are little.”

“My dream is to sleep all day on hills in the alps!”

To support #NewScots like Hidetoshi, enabling him to contribute to Edinburgh life donate here:

To feature in our #NewScots series or for more information speak to Lucy in the office.

Previously in #NewScots:

Meet Rouzalin who is Syrian – Armenian.

Photo by @Ciara_Menzies

Rouzalin is named after the flower, rose, and she is just as lovely!

“My grandparents are Armenien. I was born to a father and mother from Beirut, Lebanon and I was born in Aleppo. I have grown up between Beirut and Aleppo. In my later years, I was educated as an architect in Aleppo for six years. I taught architectural design for four years before moving to Edinburgh. I’ve been in Edinburgh since 2012, doing a PhD in architecture in a subject called “sustainability” and I have related the subject to hotel buildings with specific designs. It’s been six years and I’m at the level of writing my PhD.

I miss my home in Syria. Edinburgh castle reminds me of the old buildings in Syria, and the mountains and snow remind me of Lebanon. The homes in Edinburgh are lovely. I look forward to the day I can afford to live in a house like I used to with my parents”.

One of the many things Rouzalin loves about Scotland is Scots’ ginger hair. Rouzalin tells us, “I love ginger hair. One time I dyed my hair the orange colour.”

Rouzalin lets her creative juices flow and makes friends with locals and newcomers by attending The Welcoming’s Creative Space on Saturdays. “I find it a really good activity for me because I have lots of friends there and David (the facilitator) is a really lovely person.”

With a desire to make a lasting contribution in her new home, Rouzalin shares, “My dream for the future is to get my career back in architecture either by continuing to teach at university level or having my own practice. Also, since a child I’ve been dreaming of doing some acting.”

“Maybe I can be like either a famous architect or famous actor here!”

To support #NewScots like Rouzalin, enabling her to contribute to Edinburgh life donate here:

Creative Space is hosted by The Welcoming every Saturday between 11am-3pm. Come along to do some arts and crafts, play board games and meet new people. Just drop in, no need to book. Refreshments (fruit, biscuits, tea and coffee) are provided.

Previously in #NewScots:

Meet Vilo Gonzalez from the Canary Islands.

Photo by @Ciara_Menzies

Vilo Gonzalez, from the Canary Islands, has been living in Edinburgh since winter 1999. “I was very excited to come and see what Edinburgh is like. It was very wet when I arrived.” However, nothing could surprise him about Edinburgh after his years of extensive travelling. “I lived in London for 3-4 years and I worked in Sydney, Australia, for a year and I’ve spent time in France and Italy”

Vilo brings his spirit of inclusivity and friendliness to Edinburgh, which have been developed through his travels. He has adapted well to his new life here. “For me, Edinburgh looks like the capital of the Canary Islands. The city centre looks similar.”

On the Scottish accent, Vilo remarks, “It is a very pretty language. It is a happy language. I think it is difficult also!” The Welcoming allows opportunities for newcomers to meet locals so newcomers can become familiar with our accent.

The Welcoming offers a host of programmes and classes to newcomers like Vilo, to equip them with the skillset to integrate and make a contribution in their new home, Edinburgh.

There is no doubt that Vilo is proud to call himself a #NewScot. “I feel very much Scottish. It’s very nice for me and comfortable for me. Scotland is very nice.”

To support #NewScots like Vilo, enabling him to make a positive impact in Edinburgh, donate here:

To feature in our #NewScots series or for more information speak to Lucy in the office.

Previously in #NewScots:

Meet Petr Belaska from the Czech Republic.

Photo by @Ciara_Menzies

Petr Belaska, a photographer from a small town near Brno, Czech Republic brings his love of travel, photography and geography to Edinburgh. Back home Petr worked as a photographer taking the annual ‘school photos’ for primary and secondary kids. Since arriving in Edinburgh in August 2014 he has worked in a factory. “My goal is to find work as a hotel receptionist and welcome people to Edinburgh”.

Caitlin Rodgers, Befriending Coordinator at the Welcoming said “Petr has the most enthusiastic, bubbly nature, he’d make a fantastic receptionist. He has explored areas of Edinburgh unknown to me and I’ve lived here most of my life. He’d be a great source of hints and tips to holidaymakers.”

Petr tells us “I was stunned by the 7  hills of Edinburgh. I had climbed them all within my first two weeks here. I love the castles. I’ve visited 6 look out towers in Scotland. My favourite is Calton Hill. These towers are quite similar to look out towers in my home country. I take photos everywhere I go. I’d love to share my photos with other #NewScots to suggest places for them to visit.

I really like learning Scottish words. I love exploring the historic background of places. I read about the “Braw Braes”. I downloaded an app so I can look up these Scottish words!”

“I am indeed a #NewScotsman. Since I’m a Scot now I’d love to try wearing a kilt.”

To support #NewScots like Petr, enabling him to contribute to Edinburgh life donate here:

To feature in our #NewScots series or for more information speak to Lucy in the office.

Previously in #NewScots: 

Meet Oldaliza from the Dominican Republic.

Photo by @simon_hossack

We asked Oldaliza what she thinks about Scottish people. “They are very friendly and helpful. It’s really funny if you bump with someone and it’s your fault, they say sorry. Everyone say sorry and thank you a lot. I love this”

“Aye, why do people say aye? Now I know it means yes. At first I don’t understand this”.

Oldaliza loves Scotland. “In my country most people live in houses, they are very colourful. It’s very different here, the architecture is impressive. I love it”

We asked her what a typical meal is in the Dominican Republic, she told us that ‘Chivo Picante’ or spicy goat is very common.

Help #NewScots like Oldaliza to feel at home by donating here:

To feature in our #NewScots series or for more information speak to Lucy in the office.

Previously in #NewScots: 

Meet Mohamad Al Houlani from Syria.

Photo by @Ciara_Menzies

Mohamad has been in Edinburgh for a year. When asked if there is anything in Scotland that reminds him of home, he responded, “Yes. The Welcoming is like Syria because in Syria if we ask anybody to help, they come. And here, I see that. I see that in Scotland. They like to help”

He laughed when we asked him if he’s learnt any Scottish words, to which he promptly replied: “Wa’er”[water].

Scotland has already welcomed more than 1200 Syrian refugees, with around 150 resettling in Edinburgh. The Welcoming supports #NewScots in Edinburgh with learning English, finding jobs, making friends, learning about Scottish culture, tackling climate change and lots more.

Donate to help #NewScots like Mohamad settle into their new home by clicking here:

To feature in our #NewScots series or for more information speak to Lucy in the office.

Previously in #NewScots: 

Meet Tagridh Safat from Egypt.

Photo by @simon_hossack

It’s her third month here and she says “Edinburgh is amazing. There are lots of greens and landscapes and the people are very friendly”.

Tagridh worked as a broker in the Egyptian stock market. She is working hard to improve her English so she can find a job here. We asked what she thought of the Scottish accent.

“It’s hard, oh my god its hard, I studied English in school in Egypt, came here and people talk so fast, I can’t understand what they say. One time a plumber came to my home, I told him look I don’t understand anything you say but it is your job so you can do what you want”

We told her about the term #NewScots, Tagridh said “Do you think I will be a New Scot?, its amazing because I feel safe here, which is a good point as I have two daughters and I feel safe here”

As well as attending English classes, Tagridh volunteers with The Welcoming’s Befriending Programme, using her Arabic language skills to support other newcomers as they resettle in Edinburgh. She helps out in our weekly Arabic Café, teaching local volunteers some words and phrases in Arabic. She is a fantastic teacher, full of encouragement and energy.

Donate now  to support activities at the Welcoming, helping #NewScots to feel at home.

To feature in our #NewScots series or for more information speak to Lucy in the office.

Previously in #NewScots:

Meet Guillermo Garrido from Spain.

Photo by @simon_hossack

We are excited to launch our #NewScots series!

In this series, we want to introduce you to some of Edinburgh’s newest residents. Around 10,000 foreign nationals come to live in Edinburgh every year, with more than 1000 from over 70 different nationalities joining our classes and activities at the Welcoming! Every Friday over the next 12 weeks we will celebrate this diversity by introducing you to #NewScots who will share a little about their experience of living in Edinburgh.

We asked Guillermo what his impression of Scotland was, he told us he finds people very friendly and open. “One time before I got on a bus I didn’t have enough change, I only had a £2 coin and needed £1.60 in change. A guy at the bus stop offered to pay my bus fare. It was really impressive that he paid for me.”

We asked him about his dream job, he said “I want with all my heart to become a journalist; I don’t know if I’ll get there but that’s my dream.”

Donate now to The Welcoming to help newcomers like Guillermo settle into their new life in Scotland!