Tell me how you discovered the Library Champions project?
I was looking for a job when I arrived in BC last February and also trying to make use of my time. I did not have much of a connection with people or organizations here. My family came earlier and my wife was a former Library Champion. She encouraged me to be a volunteer with Library Champions Project and do some community work. She also provided information on the project and took me to the Surrey Library, Central Branch, on occasion, where I had opportunity to meet some Library Champions and organizers. This encouraged me to join the project.
What did you enjoy most about this volunteer opportunity?
I enjoyed the multi-cultural and multi lingual group in the training / workshop sessions to communicate and then developed friendship and shared ideas. I also enjoyed the smiles of the people in the community when they get to know how easy it is to access all of the information about their settlement in this new land.
What was the most exciting thing to learn about your library?
In my county the library is mainly academic with thousand of books only for study purpose. Here I learned and observed the multiple functions of library, including entertainment; there is something for all ages, computer use and learning opportunities, language learning and books of multiple languages. Moreover, the Library Champions Project, that disseminates information and encourages newcomer communities to use library facilities. I have visited many countries but never seen such an innovative project.
Tell me about your decision to move to Canada?
Initially I did not think about moving to Canada, but my son’s admission to Simon Fraser University (SFU) changed that. I realized that both my son and daughter would be able to do their studies in a better environment – the quality of education in my country is not as good as Canada. This decision was further accelerated by my country’s political situation and social insecurity.
What do you love most about your new home?
I love less crowded environment, the friendly people and the multiple cultures. This also gives me opportunity to learn more about other cultures and tolerance. The natural surroundings are also very fresh and green in BC.
What do you miss about Bangladesh?
I miss almost everything – my extended family, friends and neighbors, and fellow colleagues. I was directly able to contribute to the development of the county and community. I miss hearing Bangla (Bengali language is the 7th most spoken language in the world) almost everywhere – in different cultural functions, songs and literature etc. I miss travelling to the country and regions.
Tell me about the career you had in Bangladesh?
I was involved in the development sector of Bangladesh and worked with different international development organizations. I have been working as an International Civil Servant (ICS) and served as a senior officer in United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for about 18 years before my new life in Canada. I was able to mobilize several multi-million dollar projects through this organization and contributed to the development of the country. I have closely worked with Government and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) including CSO / CBOs.
What was your best accomplishment in your last career?
My best accomplishment was the project for development of urban and rural underserved and out of reach adolescents and youth with health, education and self-reliance / livelihood. The project had demonstrated several successful innovative approaches to reach young people. These approaches are still being practiced in Bangladesh by Government and NGOs. I was able to reach more than a million of young people through that project.
Are you pursuing the same career here?
I have expertise in several areas such as project planning, capacity development, and monitoring and evaluation – particularly in health and population sector. I am trying to pursue same or similar career but am finding it challenging. The skills I have and the skills required are not adequately matching. Canada does not adequately recognize the University degrees and the degrees we have are not similar to their requirements. However, I am hopeful, that I will get something to work with.
What organizations have you used to help you understand the job search in Canada?
I am mostly using different websites. In addition I am using library and also registered with WorkBC. They are assisting me in searching for work. Recently I joined with DiverseCity as a volunteer and they are also trying to help.
What suggestions do you have for others who are pursuing the same career?
I would suggest the newcomers to use the Library. That provides several opportunities including free use of computer with internet and many other facilities such as printing, scanning documents and often organize information session or workshops for different target groups which are really useful.
What would you tell someone who is considering to become a Library Champion?
This is a great project and wonderful people to work with and learn new things, also a good opportunity to network with others. I am sure everybody will be benefited from the project who wants be involved.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank Branka, Ravi and Naomi for their amazing way of facilitation and active support during the Library Champions Program and last but not the least, my wife Syeda for introducing me with this fascinating project.
Md. Mozaharul Islam Khan