I moved to Vancouver in the Summer of 2017 from Beijing. I quickly discovered that I needed to make connections with my community and meet new people.
One friend recommended the Library Champions Project – a three-month, community outreach volunteer opportunity, designed specifically for new immigrants to Vancouver – so I hastily signed up. Initially, I thought this would be a good opportunity to meet others, and to practice my English, but I quickly found that I signed up for more than I bargained for – I found opportunity to meet new people, and learned about the resources and services in my library that would help me connect with my community.
In Beijing, libraries are quite a bit bigger than those here in the Lower Mainland. There are many books to be read and borrowed, but they are not as convenient as libraries here – the largeness of Beijing means that libraries are more difficult to get to; there is so much more traffic and congestion. Libraries in Beijing charge an annual membership fee, which can deter some people from getting a membership. I was surprised to learn that memberships in BC were free!
Libraries in BC offer many learning opportunities that you won’t find in Beijing: Language learning, technology help, coffee meet-ups, and programs. The many Library programs were, and are, my favourite thing about libraries here. They helped me adapt to Canada faster than I thought I could. I felt more connected to my new community and made some good friends along the way.
I found that language was one of the most important things that I needed to learn here in Canada. I would encourage anyone moving here to know as much English as you can before you come. Once you’re here, I recommend everyone try to learn about the various programs in place that help newcomers adapt more quickly – employment programs, library programs, settlement programs, and more. I also recommend that newcomers come with an open heart and an open mind. Things are different here than they are in my home country. I respect the different ways of doing things, and the different ways of thinking, and the different opinions of the people who live here. This is, after all, a multicultural country. The Lower Mainland is full of kind-hearted, broad-minded people; I feel welcome and accepted.
I am so glad I found the Library Champions Project. I met so many good people through this volunteer opportunity. I really appreciated my facilitator, Helene. She offered an opportunity for me to grow and learn about Canada in a way that really made me feel like I belonged here.
The libraries are my second home. I love reading. My son loves reading. This is our favourite indoor activity. I am so glad I took the opportunity to be a part of this project.