MOSAIC mentor to newcomers: “Be open to change”

After finishing up an impressive 20-year career with the United Nations in 2011, Rosio Godomar moved to Canada. Trained as a nutritionist, Rosio worked with the UN’s emergency and humanitarian programs in eight countries throughout Africa, South and West Asia.

Arriving in Vancouver with her husband, Rosio considered continuing in her work as a nutritionist, for which she holds a Master’s degree. However, after learning that it would take a couple of years to achieve the necessary certification, she decided to pursue work in a related field instead.

With a sterling resume, a warm and approachable nature, and authoritative presence, it didn’t take long before she was offered a job as a food service supervisor at Burnaby General Hospital.  She remained in this role for six years, retiring in 2017 to recover her health after battling with cancer.

Rosio first learned about MOSAIC’s services for newcomers through the organization’s Interpretation and Translation Services, which she used to translate her credentials from Spanish to English shortly after her arrival.

She and had been seeking volunteer opportunities and saw a posting on the organization’s website, leading her to become a mentor with the Workplace Connections program.

Rosio has worked individually with four newcomers who have nutrition backgrounds in the four years since she joined the mentorship program.  The mentee clients hailed from West and South Asia, where Rosio had served with the UN, and Mexico.  Originally from Peru, her native language is Spanish, so she bonded quickly with all the women, who quickly realized that their mentor had a personal understanding of the challenges they faced.

Not only had Rosio learned that obtaining Canadian credentials in her field of work would take a considerable investment of time and finances, but in her job search, she encountered the same obstacle that most newcomers face, which is the lack of Canadian workplace experience.

Fortunately for Rosio, her employer accepted her international experience with the UN in lieu of local experience. But her own challenges gave her first-hand knowledge and insights about resuming her career in Canada that she has been able to share with other new immigrants through the Workplace Connections program.

“When people first come here, they are fixated on being the same professional they were. It’s not easy to accept that you will most likely be beginning in a much different place.”

Her advice to her charges is straightforward. “Be open to change.  Don’t just be focused on being a nutritionist. Get a job so that you have Canadian experience and then re-evaluate.”

Rosio is proud that three of her mentees found jobs within the first few months of their arrival. Although none of those jobs were related to their professional training, getting into the workforce, meeting new people, and establishing a local work history are all positive steps that Rosio encourages.

“I couldn’t just sit in my house when I first came to Canada. It was important for me to meet people, and this is what I communicate to the women I mentored.”

Rosio has found satisfaction from her volunteer work with MOSAIC.  “I didn’t suffer when I first came to Canada, and I wanted to share my experience with others. We are very lucky to have what we have here and I wanted to give back.”

That spirit of “giving back” is also evidenced by her founding of Educate Girls Network (EGN), a charitable initiative arising from her work in Africa. Started in 2014, EGN’s mission is to sponsor girls from under-privileged rural families in Maryland County, Liberia, and West Africa to complete their high school education and become teachers.

To learn more about this initiative, or to donate, visit https://educategirlsnetwork.org/about-egn/

When I was growing up in Peru I was inspired by life changing educational opportunities, and would like to do the same for Liberian girls. Through the EGN can bring awareness about places and people from one part of the world to another.Rosio Godomar

MOSAIC’s Workplace Connections Program currently has 135 active mentors from 20 professions. The program celebrated its 10th anniversary in the fall of 2018 and works with approximately 160 clients annually.