Teresa Tao, Group Activities Coordinator at WoodGreen Community Services
Teresa (Chinese Name: Ran) was born in China and moved to Canada at age 12 with her parents and younger brother in the early 1980’s.
Growing up in Vancouver as a shy and introvert immigrant child, her integration journey wasn’t an easy one. Like many other immigrant youth at her age, she experienced the typical growing pains, along with the challenges and struggles that are complex and unique to her group, such as: the difficulty of forming cross-ethnic new friendships while leaving her childhood friends behind, the need to balance between two cultures/two worlds while trying to develop a new self-identity, the feeling of frustration for not being able to express oneself fully due to limited English, the pressure of having to excel in school to make her parents proud …just to name a few. A sense of true belonging to Canada didn’t happen overnight for Teresa – it was rather a slow process; but once she did, her love for this country has become unshakable and unstoppable, like a river running deep.
With an educational background in Humanities/Asian Studies and an in-depth understanding of issues and barriers faced by newcomers, Teresa has been passionately working in the non-profit, immigrant services field for over 10 years, first as a settlement counsellor at S.UC.C.ES.S. in Vancouver, then as a group activities coordinator at WoodGreen’s Community Connections Program, in Toronto. She is deeply committed to assisting new immigrants to become full participants of the Canadian society by engaging them in meaningful shared activities with Canadian volunteers.
If Teresa could go back and speak to her 12-year-old self, she would say: “Don’t worry. Enjoy each day and learn from all your experiences, the good and the bad. Have fun along the way. It’s a journey”.