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Library Champions Advisory

The research, development and establishment of NewToBC and the Library Champions Project was guided by a project team and a steering committee made up of Senior Library Staff. In addition, the project was shaped and adjusted based on the experience and input of an Advisory made up of 15 Library Champions. These individuals came from a broad range of backgrounds and provided varied and specific expertise and knowledge.

We thank these individuals for the time, energy and expertise they so enthusiastically and willingly gave to NewToBC and the Library Champions Project. The insights provided by this group have been key to the ongoing success of the project and its resources.

Library Champions Advisory

Library Champions

Click on the names below to view more information about each Library Champion Advisory Board member.

Charles W.J. Mao
Full Name:Charles W.J. Mao
Country of Origin: China
Languages spoken: Mandarin, English, Portuguese (basic)
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: Legal Assistant

I was a professional manager of inspection and certification in China before I immigrated to Canada. The liveable environment and climate of Vancouver has always been attractive to me and my family. After we came to Canada in 2012, I was deeply impressed by the multiculturalism and the wealth of free resources from the public libraries.

I was looking forward to integrating socially in my new life here and so started to volunteer as a Library Champion of NewToBC in 2013. I enjoyed the training courses and outreach of the program which made me feel more fulfilled and confident.

In order to help more new immigrants in the community, I was lucky and glad to become a member of the Advisory Committee which I have been on for the past three years. Together as a group, we have helped to organize the LCP year end celebration events and provided feedback to improve the NewtoBC website. Building on the great experience and confidence I gained through this volunteer work, I found my first job in Canada as a legal assistant in a law firm. I’ve always been proud of being a member of the LCP and the Advisory Committee and will continue enthusiastically supporting this project in the future.

Grace Li
Full Name: Grace Li
Country of Origin: Hong Kong, China
Languages spoken: English, Mandarin, Cantonese
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: Employment and Immigration Services

My name is Grace Li, an immigrant from Hong Kong, China. I love all kinds of reading, cultural activities, access to information, and knowledge building. As a certified yoga teacher, I give yoga classes to non-profit and charitable organizations.

Joining the Library Champions Project gives me the opportunity to connect with like-minded people. A Library Champion plays a key role in supporting community engagement and promotes the enjoyment of reading. Serving as a Library Champions Advisory Committee member gives me the opportunity to reflect the needs of newcomers and library patrons.

Working at the Canadian Consulate in Hong Kong developed my skills in providing assistance to a multicultural client base in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. At present, I am working as a Program and Administrative Assistant at the YMCA. Our team primarily provides services and programs to new immigrants. As well, I volunteer for a number of cultural activities and sports events.

Houman Sadjadian
Full Name: Houman Sadjadian
Country of Origin: Iran
Languages spoken: Farsi, English
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: Adult Education/Training and Development

As a newcomer, I was really overwhelmed by the question of how I could learn more about my new community and build a great network. Finding a job and a long term career goal was of course another challenge for me. I hold a degree in Electrical Engineering and I have many years of experience in training and adult education.

After lots of research and outreach to refresh my skills and get back into my career, I was really surprised to find out about the great services that libraries offer here and wanted to learn more and more about these. The services were simply wonderful and gave me a very clear vision of what I should do in the future. This experience inspired me to refer newcomers I met to the library and to try to introduce them to its resources. I was so excited to find out about the Library Champions Project after that and it has been a great pleasure to work as a Champion and on the Advisory Committee.

I definitely think that this great project should be supported and developed as it is one of the best resources to give newcomers an awesome perspective of their long term goals.

Jimmy Liang
Full Name:Jimmy Liang
Country of Origin:China
Languages spoken: English, Cantonese, Mandarin
Occupation / Profession: Business System Analyst

Both my academic background and working experience are related to information technologies and the interaction of information. I studied Information Systems in China and then Business Information Technology Management at BCIT. Now I work as a Business System Analyst. I would like to pursue my higher education in Library Science and Information Studies in the near future.

The public library is not just a place with books and computers; it is a great medium to manage, transfer and share information with communities. I decided to become a Library Champion because I am curious about how library systems work, how services are delivered and how newcomers access the resources they need.

Mamatha Vuppucheria
Full Name: Mamatha Vuppucherla
Country of Origin: India
Languages spoken: English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: Accounts Payable Assistant

I am originally from India and lived in Bahrain for almost 15 years. I moved to Canada in August 2011. I have a Master’s Degree in Library Science, equivalent to a Canadian Master’s Degree. I acquired 15 years of experience as a Librarian and Resource Centre Manager in different academic libraries in Bahrain.

When I moved to Vancouver, I became aware of the numerous libraries around the city. I wanted to use the knowledge I had gained in my profession and through my network, I found out about the Library Champions Project as a gateway. During the LCP outreach, I felt more connected to different people of various cultural backgrounds and helped them to find all the resources available through the library.
My ambition to continue to serve the community drew me to choose to be part of the Advisory Committee. Overall, there has been a positive impact. The perception that many immigrants have about the library is as a source of books, but various group presentations have really helped to change this perception.

Through the outreach, I came to know about the ISSofBC Job Options program and got my current job after completing a certificate course at Langara College. My volunteer experience has included volunteering at the David Thompson Secondary School library as well as the Jewish Community Centre library.

Mani Mahaseni
Full Name: Mani Mahaseni
Country of Origin: Iran
Languages spoken: Farsi, English, French
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: Construction management

After settling in Vancouver over the last three and half years, contributing to my new community here has become an important part of my life. Before moving to Canada, my wife and I both knew that the biggest step to integrating better into the society was to start helping people similar to ourselves. That led my wife to volunteer in medical educational courses since she is a doctor and me to join a couple of volunteer based organizations, one of which is the Library Champions Project.

The vision of the Library Champions Project was clearly connected with my goals and following the instructions we learned on how to guide newcomers to use libraries as a useful resource made my own settlement process seem easier. During the first three months working with colleagues on the project, my interest in this genre of work became more pronounced and eventually I was kindly accepted as one of the Advisory Committee members.

Finally, I should mention that being recognized in a new society is quite a struggle; therefore, contributing time and thought to organizations such as the Library Champions Project can help people deepen their roots and strengthen their networks.

Manouchehr Madani Civi, MD, MHSc (c)
Full Name: Manouchehr Madani Civi
Country of Origin: Iran
Languages spoken: Farsi, English
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: Family Medicine, MHSc (c)

Everybody can find the best guides and answers to any questions in the books and new information resources in libraries. The Library Champion’s role is to present library resources to newcomers as powerful tools for the problems of settlement, and we can help them. During our involvement in this project, we come to know different people and hear their stories of the settlement period. And now in the Library Champions Advisory Committee, we can design future activities to improve the efficacy of this project.

I received my MD degree from Iran in 1991. I have worked as a physician and researcher for more than 20 years. I am an editorial board member of three international journals.

Melvin Bustamante
Full Name: Melvin Bustamante
Country of Origin: Ecuador
Languages spoken: Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, English
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: Economist, M.B.A.

I chose to become a Library Champion because I have always liked to participate in newly created projects for the private and public sector. Furthermore, it caught my attention when I realized that this project was supported by the Canadian government.

When I joined the Advisory Committee, I had the opportunity to provide further contributions to this project with my personal thoughts on behalf of other immigrants. Since then, I have experienced a real sense of ongoing commitment to the community, which has also led me to join and later volunteer for the Client Advisory Committee at M.O.S.A.I.C., a non profit organization in Metro Vancouver that offers services for immigrants during their settlement in this country.

I am really proud to be part of this team to which every single Library Champion and NewToBC representative has contributed, allowing this project to win the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) Award for Programs and Services.

Mohammad Ali
Full Name: Mohammad Ali
Country of Origin: Palestine
Languages spoken: Arabic, English
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: Project manager and business analyst

I’m a poet by disposition and a business analyst/project manager by vocation, with a background in business process improvement and information systems development, and a passion to always be fruitful. I admire all those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, and I believe they do.

For this reason, I have volunteered as a Library Champion and Advisory Committee member, co-chair of the Immigrants Advisory Roundtable (IAR), Community Leaders Igniting Change (CLIC) participant, computer teacher, tax clinic officer, and English conversation circle facilitator, and I aim for more. It is giving that gives me happiness and a sense of value, and the more it bears fruit, the more value I draw from it.

Negin Mohammadi
Full Name: Negin Mohammadi
Country of Origin: Iran
Languages spoken: Farsi, English
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: LCP Registration Manager

Being a book-worm all my life and fascinated by reading as a hobby made me interested in becoming a Library Champion. Afterward, hearing the wonderful feedback from my friends got me going to go and join the LCP. I clearly remember the day in the summer of 2014 at Coquitlam Centre Library where I was amazed to see the crowd of people in line to become a Library Champion and I felt nervous about whether I would get chosen as a Library Champion or not.

The Advisory Committee has been a place where I have been acknowledged as a professional who can make a difference to the advancement of the Library Champions Project. Plus it is an awesome opportunity where I can use my skills, meet new people with similar interests and expand my network.

The Library Champions Project is really close to my heart because it was the first place in my new home (Canada) where I was acknowledged as a professional who has many transferable skills. Moreover, the project has informed me about the endless resources in our libraries. Using those resources has led me to have a better understanding of Canadian culture and has helped me and my family to have an easier and more enjoyable settlement journey.

Olanrewaju Akindele-obe
Full Name: Olanrewaju Akindele-obe
Country of Origin: Nigeria
Languages spoken: English, Yoruba
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: I.T.

Back in my country, I was always involved in a lot of volunteer work so when my employment counsellor at ISSofBC told me about the Library Champions Project, I knew it was a great opportunity to start another volunteer mission here in Canada and indeed I have no regrets. The Library Champions Project has really been educational, informative and richly impactful to me. It’s a program I would joyfully introduce and recommend to any newcomer in Canada.

The project’s rich multicultural setting, networking opportunities and ready availability to resource materials are just a few of the benefits that have made the project a huge success. So when I was asked to be part of the Advisory Committee, I embraced it right away and currently, my experience in the committee is second to none. The Library Champions Project is truly a blessing to me.

Roya Akbari
Full Name: Roya Akbari
Country of origin: Iran
Languages spoken: Farsi (Persian), English, French
Your Chosen Occupation/Profession: Human Resources Professional

I felt the Library Champions Project was a great way for me to connect with the community, to step out of my shell and find new friends and connections and also to get more information on what the libraries in BC have to offer. I knew that with this new knowledge, I could help other immigrants just like me settle here in BC much faster and more easily.

After I finished the Library Champions Project, I was asked if I was interested in becoming part of the Advisory Committee and this made me so proud and happy that I could still be part of this life-changing program and help immigrants to BC in their settlement process.

The project gave me a purpose and motive to go out and talk to people that I did not even know, as well as to my friends and family, and to give them useful information about the community and libraries as well as general information that could facilitate their settlement. When I saw the positive reactions of complete strangers and friends, it just made me feel so proud of myself. I felt I belonged to my community.

I have been married for 12 years and have two kids, one girl and one boy. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics and a Master’s degree in Economics. I also have more than seven years experience working as a human resources manager in a manufacturing company in Tehran.

Susan Habibian
Full name: Susan Habibian
Country of origin: Iran
Language spoken: Farsi, English
Profession: Economics Professor

My name is Susan Habibian. I was a Professor of Economics (Microeconomics & Macroeconomics) for almost 20 years in my country of origin, Iran. My background also includes extensive experience in finance and foreign procurement.

I first landed in Canada with my family in 2009 and after a period of travelling back and forth to Iran, I have been living in Vancouver now for two years. During this time, I have participated in various volunteer roles, mostly focused on helping newcomers. I wrote an article about the barriers and challenges of newcomers for MOSAIC’s annual newsletter, have served as both a Library Champion and Advisory Committee member for the Library Champions Project, and was trained and served as a consultant for IES (Innovating for Employment Success).

I am now focused on looking for employment in my field, with the goal of working in an academic environment.

Xiao Hong Song
Full Name: Xiao Hong Song
Country of Origin: China
Languages spoken: Mandarin, English
Your chosen Occupation / Profession: General Manager of Distributor of goods

My name is Xiaohong Song and I’m from Mainland China where I used to run my own business. I have been living in Vancouver for over 7 years now. I have two daughters, one 17 years old and the other 5 years old. When we first moved to Canada, language was the biggest challenge for my older daughter. Thankfully, the great collection of books in our library helped her to get through this tough transition period. My little one was born in Vancouver and has been enjoying the fun at the kid’s story group.

Seeing both my kids benefit a lot from various library programs really inspired me to be more actively involved in such great initiatives and so that was why I joined the Library Champions Project. I wanted to help introduce our library system to more immigrants and help them to fully utilize these wonderful resources. I am excited and proud to have been selected as a member of the Advisory Committee. This has helped me to regain my confidence in the new community and be a good role model for my kids. I will dedicate my time and passion to this project. My older daughter has also been involved in our community volunteering and becoming more confident and independent.

Yasuko Tamaki
Full Name: Yasuko Tamaki
Country of Origin: Japan
Languages spoken: English, Japanese
Your Chosen Occupation / Profession: Background as a researcher and university instructor. Interested in finding employment in community services field with long term goal of working as an activist and researcher in Canada.

My friend who is a settlement worker recommended the Library Champions Project to me. I wanted to train for outreach work, public speaking and research skills. My facilitator recommended being a part of the Advisory Committee. I like this project and after I finished the Library Champions Project, I wanted to continue to contribute.

When I gave a presentation at the library, I found it was not only helpful to newcomers but also Canadians. I could learn how to survive, how to support people, how to live together. Newcomers start their new life in our neighbourhood. There are online databases at the library website. It is quite simple but many people don’t know this. We could share the library website which has many databases!

Now I am working at Nikkei Museum as a translator (Nikkei meant Japanese Canadian). I am also a member of four advisory committees for the Library Champions Project, New Westminster Neighbourhood Small Grants, Senior Thrive Project at UBC Learning Exchange and DTES New Perspectives. I organized a film screening about the Geisha at the DTES New Perspective Conference as part of the Asian Heritage Month event at Vancouver Japanese Language School. Over 100 people participated.

Now I am planning an ESL picnic supported and funded by NW Small Grants in July and August.
I am organizing a human library project supported by UBC Learning Exchange and the Strathcona branch of VPL in summer 2016. I am also facilitating the intermediate level ESL conversation circle at UBC Learning Exchange.