Helen Zhao – CCI-LEX Board member, small business owner, volunteer, and now donor – has experienced first-hand the challenges of being an immigrant. In this brief interview, Helen tells us about her journey and what inspired her to contribute to Club Lexicon.
Why did you become a Club Lexicon member?
Being an immigrant, moving to Canada, and experiencing the challenges with no support systems to guide me have all led me to become a member of Club Lexicon. Establishing oneself in Canadian society is a challenge unlike any other for an immigrant. Connecting with communities and my peers at university was something I struggled with during my freshman year as an international student. It took years of relationship building, trying out different roles, and volunteering in my local community to gain confidence and become proficient in the English language and fully integrate myself into Canadian society. I am truly able to empathize and I hope to be a resource to newcomers and help them to build a better tomorrow.
What is it that you value most about CCI-LEX?
CCI-LEX is a community network with a support system for newcomers (something I never had when I came to Canada): that is what I value most about the organization.
Is there a significant moment, experience or person in your life that moved you to make a difference in the world?
The rules, regulations, and systems in place are foreign to newcomers to Canada. Most Canadian-born individuals will not understand the struggle of obtaining immigrant status, the constantly changing policies, and the bureaucracy surrounding all of this. I know what it feels like – to be vulnerable and taken advantage of due to a lack of knowledge and expertise in this area. I have walked through ‘the fire’ myself and I want to do my part to ensure that others have access to resources to be successful in Canada.
What inspires you to be a community builder and volunteer?
I have an innate desire to assist individuals on their journey to becoming a resident of Canada. I have been provided with multiple opportunities through the various communities I’m part of, and I would like to share this with others to highlight the benefit of community service, volunteering, and supporting people in need. I currently run my own business, HZ Marketing, with the goal to make marketing accessible for small businesses.
If you could change one thing in the world, country, or your community, what would that be, and how would you do it?
I genuinely hope people can support one another more often. If an individual is dealing with a crisis, the community should reach out to them to provide support. I believe I’m making a difference in my own way through volunteering and donating my time as and when possible. I hope that serving as a board director of CCI-LEX and being a donor of the organization will help raise awareness toward a worthy cause. In my daily life, I periodically check in with contacts in my network and show support and care to individuals (family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers) who are going through a tough time in their lives.
Club Lexicon donors help provide stable support for CCI-LEX to continue to offer accessible English language classes to adult newcomers with an emphasis on community-building and cultural exchange. If you’re able, we encourage you to join Club Lexicon today!