Wendy Zhang -Volunteer of the Month for November 2021

Wendy smiles at the camera in a local parkWendy has approached her volunteer work at Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC) with a clear intention: to create a positive change in the community. Her contribution to the Community Initiatives for Immigrant Seniors Program (CISP) has immensely helped immigrant Chinese seniors acquire the skills necessary to communicate in English for their everyday needs, such as going to the hospital, taking public transit, shopping or even just interacting with their English-speaking neighbours. She has shown leadership and dedication in her role, volunteering for over 100 hours with ISC. This is her story.

“I am currently a second-year master’s student studying immunology at the University of Calgary. I began volunteering at ISC in the beginning of 2019 and it has been a great pleasure to take part as an English teacher for Chinese senior immigrants. As an immigrant myself, I became aware of the feeling of disconnect brought by differences in language after experiencing isolation as a child in school and witnessing the struggles my parents faced while searching for employment. Seeking to address the challenges of adapting to a new country, I discovered ISC and was very happy to be provided with an opportunity to become an English teacher for Chinese senior immigrants. Although providing homework and activities for the class has been an incredibly enjoyable experience, my favourite aspect of volunteering at ISC is seeing the spectacular growth in confidence to speak in the English language. As a teacher and companion, I admire each student’s passion and resilience to adapt to the new setting and it would be my absolute honour to hopefully continue acting as a liaison for the students and help immigrants embrace cultural differences to maximize their experience in Calgary.”

Whether in class or virtually, Wendy excels at interacting with and engaging the Chinese seniors attending the activity she facilitates. She prepares lesson plans, worksheets, quizzes and homework, runs activities, plays videos and even sings to them. Constantly seeking for improvement, Wendy has created new classroom styles, new ways to teach, new class formats and so on, efforts that have been noticed and applauded by the seniors and CISP staff alike. Wendy is a very promising young woman who demonstrates constantly that big changes do not require big gestures, but rather leadership, focus, creativity, dedication and empathy. Seeing how she contributes to making our society better gives me hope for a better future for all.”

Alina Ghita-Visinescu, Community Programs Coordinator