Penticton Western News letters to the editor.

Letter: Great networking event for employers and immigrants

Many times life’s decisions lead to unexpected results including personal growth

Recently, June 15, the South Okanagan Similkameen Labour Immigration Partnership put on a one day conference in Penticton called Connect2017 which was a way to bring employers and newcomers together.

It was billed as a Forum for Immigrant Job Seekers and Regional Employers.

We learned more about challenges, perceptions and benefits of diversity at the morning workshop presented by Jeanne Martinson, a leadership and diversity speaker.

It was such a good talk — so thought provoking especially about how we communicate as individuals and as job seekers. Even when the birth country and language is the same, there are the considerations of family conditioning and values, Eastern versus Western global perspective, gender communication differences (biological and culturally conditioned), generational changes (Baby Boomers versus Generation Y) and individual personality.

Did you know that Generation X’ers in Canada do not present the same as those in the U.S.? Or, that people who move to another country tend to not act like their generational title, but take on one that is more traditional. Traditionals are older than Baby Boomers and are focused on security.

Did you know that Eastern interviewing styles are different? The Eastern view is less individualistic. It’s more important to talk about group efforts, the project. In the West employers want to hear about individual accomplishments.

One of the ways that the South Okanagan Immigration and Community Services helped me as we prepared a video for Connect2017 was with practice interviews. I quickly realized that I had forgotten what was expected in an interview — or how to write an effective resume. And, I come from the West. It had been many years since I had been called for an interview. My skills needed polishing.

You can imagine what happens when a Western employer has certain expectations in an interview, but a newcomer with an Eastern or Asian background is accustomed to another process. Teaching immigrants how to interview in the West is one of the services that SOICS could implement more, if they don’t already.

After the morning workshop, we networked. Employers and immigrants. We shared our stories of coming to Canada. Employers reached out, handed out business cards, provided advice and information.

I spoke to a man from South Korea about journey to Canada and his recent lightbulb moment about his personal values. His values changed from a culturally-conditioned belief system, to one that expresses his own personal truth. This sharing evoked emotion in both of us. I was so grateful to be seated next to him. His journey and life — so different from mine and yet so similar.

We, new and sometimes not-so-newcomers, made a decision to change our lives. Some followed dreams, others left bad situations in their homeland. Some wanted better lives for their family and children. Many times life’s decisions lead to unexpected results including personal growth.

As one of the immigrants on the panel said when asked what she would tell other newcomers — this is paraphrased, “don’t give up hope. Keep pushing to do what you love. Even when you are desperate to pay your bills. One step at a time.”

Kudos to SOSLIP and SOICS.

Shawn Limbach

Penticton