I love storytelling, and I’m so inspired by the things they do and say.  

Inspiration Goes Both Ways

One of the great things about volunteering is the opportunity it provides for connecting with others. It didn’t take long for Jan Adshead to decide that working with newcomers as a CSS volunteer was a great choice for her. 

“I started volunteering last July because it was inspiring,” said Jan. “I like the people and I love the stories.  

“I came across an ad looking for a cooking volunteer, and I was so excited because I’ve always loved cooking. If I got to teach people to cook and interact with people from other cultures, it was a perfect fit. I’m drawn like a moth to the light when it comes to people with other languages and interesting stories; I also love to watch the kids diving into the bread dough; it transcends language.” 

Jan soon expanded into other volunteer positions, including facilitating Learning and Community Enrichment conversation circles at the local library. 

“I love storytelling, and I’m so inspired by the things they do and say,” said Jan. “I’m always asking questions, trying to provoke a response. I want people to put their hearts into it as much as I do, so if they’re in the room, I expect them to respond.” 

Jan’s commitment to full participation means attendees who seem reluctant to engage are met with encouragement and enthusiasm. This fits with the team’s goal of helping newcomers overcome perceived obstacles that might slow their personal growth. 

“I tell them that ‘you have to open your hearts and drop your fear if you want to learn and make things work. If you do, you will fly in this country, because you will have what it takes to succeed.’ 

“Everything associated with these classes is about learning, but I’m learning too. It’s a great opportunity to grow, and it’s a fabulous way to meet new people. It’s so rewarding.” 

Jan taps into the class experience to help others maintain their motivation when integrating into a new country gets particularly challenging. One special experience that moved her was when she asked a group to talk about three things they’d done in their lives that were real challenges, but that they succeeded at. 

“One talked about raising a puppy, and another had marched in protest of her government when it wasn’t allowed. Each story is inspiring in its own way.  

“I believe we have to inspire each other in this world. We’re given a great opportunity when new people bring new perspectives and ideas to our land.” 

In return, Jan works hard to ensure she’s helping her group make real progress toward social integration. 

“It isn’t not caring – I care deeply about them, and I want all of them all to succeed. But often, the root of the problem is fear. The faster they get past that fear, the quicker they can move forward. 

“I also tell them that they matter, and that their being here makes a difference.”