Volunteer of the Month

Sanaa Al-Khannaq is Immigrant Services Calgary’s Volunteer of the Month

Sanaa
Al-Khannaq

Sanaa Al-Khannaq is Immigrant Services Calgary’s Volunteer of the Month

We met Sanaa in the spring of 2018 when she eagerly joined Immigrant Services Calgary’s (ISC) Volunteer Program. She was excited to contribute and put her many talents to work for the benefit of the community. It wasn’t long before Sanaa started volunteering as a workshop facilitator, interpreter, and office/reception support. She diligently fulfilled her assignments, constantly looking for opportunities to learn and grow along the way. Sanaa has completed over 210 volunteer hours so far.

“Sanaa is a smart, resilient woman who does not shy away from a challenge. As a volunteer, she grew fast, as did the amount of time she put into her assignments. She is a quick learner and always eager to learn new things.” Gela Dezfoulian, Volunteer Facilitator

This is Sanaa’s story:

“I was born, grew up, studied and married in Baghdad. Baghdad is the capital city of Iraq. Its location along the Tigris River and proximity to Euphrates makes it a very beautiful city with many historical sites.

With many siblings and great parents, I learnt the values of self-reliance, contribution, integrity, equity and helping others. I still remember a piece of art that my father put in the center of our house - a piece of black velvet embroidered with silver thread that said "The best people are those doing good deeds for other people” – that kept reminding us to practice benevolence in our lives.

Challenges mean a lot to me as they lead to change and achievement. My life was full of challenges, in the work, birth and studies, all of which happened at the same time. The result was a good career with significant achievements, three successful and educated children, and a PhD in Business Administration. I published a book titled “Knowledge Engineering System” that was considered the first book of its kind in Arabic. Besides my passion for traveling and reading, I love sewing, embroidery and crochet. I have made many beautiful pieces and I carry some of them with me wherever I go.

Leaving Iraq with my family for Malaysia because of the war in Iraq was not an easy decision, and it brought many new challenges for me. Despite these challenges, I proudly secured a teaching job with two of the best universities in Malaysia for eight years. Throughout my time at the university, I continued to publish articles and present papers at numerous international conferences.  I later moved to Jordan for another university teaching job. I left Jordan in 2017 to come to Canada with my daughter.

I have volunteered with Immigrant Services Calgary since May 2018 as Interpreter, Workshop Facilitator, Office Support, and Settlement Admin Support at the main reception desk. This work has exposed me to many different cultures and enriched my experience through meeting people who speak various languages and have diverse life experiences or levels of education.  In April 2019, I received a Certificate of Volunteering Appreciation from the House of Commons- Forest Lawn’s Member of Parliament.

In my opinion, ISC is distinguished by the enthusiasm of its staff to provide the best service to immigrants and help them to overcome difficulties they may face. That also applies for the Volunteer Department, as they provide volunteers with opportunities to develop new professional skills while also gaining Canadian experience and employing their professional expertise.

I like working for ISC because I want to give back to the community and make a difference in the lives of immigrants by ensuring they find workplace success. I appreciate the opportunity ISC has given me to do this.”

You are an inspiration for all, Sanaa, and your contribution genuinely appreciated. Congratulations!