Building a sense of community: Hansen’s story

December 4, 2023

By: Amir Khan, Communications Generalist – volunteering

After more than 10 years in Canada, Hansen Yu reflects on the past seven years he has given to volunteering with MOSAIC.

As he reunited with his family after his departure from Shanghai, he remembers feeling a sense of un-ease and nervousness when thinking about how he would adjust to a new country, new society and new language.

“For me personally, the only drawback of living here is the language barrier that could be hard to overcome,” Hansen says. “I hope to lighten the communication barrier by engaging in volunteer services.”

Hansen’s academic experience in teaching electro-magnetic field theory in China inspired him to learn more about the world around him, leading him to explore by giving his time in the service of local organizations in his newfound community, in Vancouver. Despite changes in China over recent years, Hansen notes volunteering opportunities were uncommon during his life there, which intrigued him to join MOSAIC’s corps of over 360 volunteers to help prepare for various programs, services and events each year.

Hansen carries with him the age-old saying: ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’. He explains that people of different cultures should work to align around Canadian values of “compassion, freedom, equality, mutual respect, inclusivity and mutual assistance”. He believes these values can help toward building a cohesive community.

“I wanted to play a role in fostering inclusive communities that embrace people from all backgrounds,” Hansen says. “Volunteering with MOSAIC allowed me to actively contribute to these causes and make a difference in the lives of individuals, and families seeking a better future.”

Volunteering has been a source of learning for Hansen, and it has taught him empathy and patience by placing him in direct contact with people of varying perspectives and backgrounds. He says it forces him to adapt to different challenges and taught him important lessons:

“Change doesn’t happen overnight, and progress often requires consistent effort over time,” Hansen explains as he recalls his past experiences when working with others at MOSAIC events.

“[Volunteering] also taught the power of community and collaboration – working together can achieve far more than individual efforts. Most importantly, volunteering has shown me the great impact of kindness and generosity,” he adds.

According to MOSAIC’s 2022/23 Annual Report, MOSAIC volunteers have collectively engaged in nearly 9000 hours of volunteer time, making the volunteer program an excellent way to gain Canadian experience.

Hansen admits that volunteering for a cause can be a highly rewarding experience for those who partake in it, but also those whom the volunteers work to help. For those who are considering donating their time, he advises to start small.

“You don’t need to commit to a massive project right away, begin with something manageable, like a few hours a week, this way you can learn about how it fits into your life and how much you enjoy it. Sometimes people hesitate because they feel that their contribution might not make a big difference. Every bit counts. Even a small gesture could have a significant impact on someone’s life.”

He says that reflecting on one’s impact in volunteering helps to improve mental wellbeing. He adds that volunteering also offers a broadened perspective and helps to enhance skills.

“Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to volunteering.”

“It’s about finding what speaks to you and making a positive difference in a way that feels meaningful for you.”

On International Volunteers Day, MOSAIC thanks and extends its appreciation to every volunteer who has donated their time and energy towards the cause of helping newcomers succeed in their settlement in Canada. Together, we can engage newcomers and enrich lives. Learn more about our volunteering program.