For Sharon Jensen, the opportunity to be involved with, and exposed to, different cultures is like being in a flower garden.
“If you only have one kind of flower it can get pretty boring,” she said. “But when you have a wide variety of flowers of different shapes and colours, you have something exciting and beautiful.”
That’s one of the motivations behind her long-term involvement with the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society in Nanaimo.
Jensen has served on the society’s board of directors for four years before being elected president its annual general meeting last month.
“There can be so many challenges for the new arrivals. For many of them, coming to Canada is like landing on an alien planet,” she said. “They may come here with university degrees and 20 years of business experience, but don’t know how to get a library card or where to go to find a job. There is a lot to be done, but it can also be very rewarding.”
Originally from California, Jensen worked in her family’s real estate and property management business while attending university. Earned a masters degree in educational administration, she left real estate and spent 25 years working in various school administration positions, including 12 years on Vancouver Island.
In 2007 she returned to her real estate roots and became involved with the multicultural society.
“I do it because of the opportunity of learning about other cultures and to simply feel good about doing something positive in the community,” she said.