The 35-year-old Tuxedo resident arrived here last November with his wife, Dr. Colette Seifer, a former city resident returning to be near family and a new job. The couple married in Britain, where Miguel-Garcia lectured on language and linguistics, and Spanish language and literature in several universities. He's originally from Spain.
Miguel-Garcia fondly remembers his first winter here, and discovering how those cold Manitoba temperatures were not as bad as he had feared. While waiting for his permanent residency status, he decided to get involved in his new community by volunteering.
He put his teaching background and appreciation of art to good use and headed to the Winnipeg Art Gallery as a volunteer exhibit tour guide. He also assisted at the Canadian Red Cross with their medical equipment loans program, and joined the local speakers bureau to talk about UNICEF.
"I had the experience and time, so I offered it to certain groups," he says.
Miguel-Garcia says volunteering has provided him with a fantastic introduction to Canada. He greatly enjoyed sharing information on exhibits with visitors to the WAG.
His work at the gallery also earned him a Star of the City Hospitality Award. The award was presented to Miguel-Garcia and a number of other local volunteers by the City of Winnipeg on Sept. 23.
"Teaching is about trying to guide a person. Helping others to learn more is what I do. I enjoy it," says Miguel-Garcia.
Integral to his learning process while making himself at home here was learning new terms to replace the terms he had used while living in Britain.
Examples include calling something a lineup rather than a queue, pants instead of trousers, and washroom rather than toilet.
"So many parts of the English language are different in North America," he says. "That is part of the richness of language. It takes time to learn these things, to become a part of a new community."
Now that he his permanent residency status fromthe federal government, Miguel-Garcia is teaching Spanish at College Universitaire de Saint-Boniface and the University of Winnipeg.
He has also set up his own business, the Spanish Institute. Miguel-Garcia offers private and corporate Spanish lessons, and consults with businesses that want to do business in Latin America and Spain.
"I offer public relations services, translation and how to do business with Spanish-speaking countries," says Miguel-Garcia. "There are legal issues, customs and traditions that business people should be aware of when dealing with businesses in Spain and Latin America."
Miguel-Garcia says he loves his new community and is making himself at home here.
"The people are warm and receptive," he says. "This is a multicultural, family-oriented society. Spain is also very family-oriented."
For further information on the Spanish Institute, e-mail Miguel-Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 832-9893.
PHOTO LINDA VERMETTE/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS