Shannon Markle | October 3, 2017
Volunteer Profile: Veronica Garcia
Little over a year ago 32 year old Veronica Garcia was very much a stranger in a strange land. Having left her home in tropical Maracaibo, Venezuela, Veronica followed love north to Cambridge, Ontario. Not only would this adventure allow her relationship to grow, but it gave her the opportunity to explore a new place and to learn English. While leaving her family, her friends, her car and a successful engineering career in a Venezuelan oil reservoir behind was difficult, the payoff would be worth it.
Seeking ways to settle in Veronica came to Idea Exchange. Weekly Conversation Circles offered a great place to practice English and share tips on navigating daily life in Canada with other newcomers. But with time to share, Veronica joined the volunteer team, and that’s when the learning really began.
Veronica learned that Canadians are very open about their lives and playfully make fun of themselves. As other volunteers, like Sharon and Peter, shared stories of life in Canada, Veronica gained tremendous insight into her new community and Canadian Citizenship. After one short winter Veronica’s feet were firmly beneath her. She understood how harsh weather changes your life and why we enjoy the sun so much. That not only is it safe to ride the bus alone at night, but that you can trust in a general atmosphere of respect for others here. That people will spend hours talking about their life experiences to strangers and laughing at their struggles.
And something else was happening. Volunteering at community events like the Cambridge Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts and Friday Night Art Live was making Veronica a part of our lives too. Her Canadian family saw her picture in the volunteer newsletters and Snap’d, and pointed her out on Roger’s TV marching in the Cambridge Santa Clause Parade. ‘You met the mayor?” her astonished boyfriend Chris asked after one event. “I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never met the mayor.”
Last September, Veronica busily attended a craft table at the Cambridge International Festival when she noticed a group gathering around the Art In Motion community kite. She’d helped build that kite. At community events summer-long she’d assisted children to make their small piece of something beautiful created together. Out in the grassy-green field of Riverside Park that kite lifted into the clear blue sky of sunny Canadian fall day, and Veronica knew that she was home.
Volunteering is a great way to feel a sense of belonging. Idea Exchange welcomes volunteers to contribute to the thriving life of their community. Join us for an interview and orientation to discover a volunteer position that works for you.