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Champions Among Us

Our Library Champion Project is really the heart of NewToBC. Newcomers volunteer their time to educate other newcomers about the amazing things that BC Libraries have to offer. They reach out to people in their communities sharing information about obtaining library cards, attending workshops, discovering books in native languages, or any of the other myriad of service that are available. They are trained by facilitators who provide them with information on how to reach out to others, as well as  inform them of just how diverse libraries in Canada are. By the end of the training, the Champions forge a community with other newcomers from various parts of the world, united by their love of libraries.

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Angel was one such Library Champion. She arrived in Canada in September 2013. She became a Library Champion and shared her experiences, her thoughts and her hopes with us.

What has been your most memorable moment so far?
I went on a tour to the central library. I was amazed when many in my group had library memberships for more than 15 years and still learned of so many services that are available in the library.

What do you wish you knew before you moved here?
I was an art teacher and researcher. I wish I was able to find a job. I want to be helpful.

What was the biggest surprise to you?
I was wondering how the Library Champion’s Project would help me to connect to newcomers and how I would be able to help to other people. It was surprised how, before I finished the 4th training session, I had too many people to schedule in.

Tell me about your experience as a Library Champion?
I had so many presentations: at my LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) classes and community centre. It was interesting when students were curious about options at the libraries: eBooks, online newspapers and free classes.

How did you find out about the Library Champion program?
I registered for volunteer work at ISSofBC and the staff there sent me email about the Library Champions Project.

What is the biggest difference between libraries here and libraries where you’re from?
The libraries here are open and welcome to everyone. Immigrants can join the Library Champions Project and help other newcomers and themselves.

What do you feel is the most important aspect of libraries in BC?
Public Libraries are open and offer something interesting for everyone. They are very accessible.

What was the biggest learning moment about your library after you became a library Champion?
Libraries aren’t just about borrowing books, CDs and DVDs. It’s also about finding and learning about so many other things that you need. It has helped me become motivated to go to out into the community again.

What is your favourite place to go to in Vancouver?
My favourite indoor place is the Central Library, and my favourite outdoor place is Stanley Park.

What is the thing you love most about your new city?
Freedom, the nice and natural areas, and the friendly people.

Is there anything that you wished I had asked you about?
I’m volunteering at YMCA in events. I hope I can find a job in my position again so I can continue helping others.

What would you like others to know about you and your journey?
I wanted to live in city where I feel calm, comfort and peace. I think I found my city. It’s Vancouver.

Do you have any words of advice for other newcomers?
Don’t be shy. Connect with a community center. Find new friends. Join in events. You will find all of these in the Library Champion project.