She came to study business, arriving as an international student at Western University in 2011. But Fan Liu stayed to help strengthen the community, volunteering and working with agencies that aim to help support vulnerable Londoners.
By the time she graduated, Fan changed her focus to psychology and started looking for work that would help her give back to the community that had made her feel at home despite sometimes-debilitating language barriers.
Fan’s first job in London was with Youth Opportunities Unlimited, helping the agency build relationships for its jam manufacturing enterprise, now called Mushed by YOU. Youth Opportunities Unlimited is dedicated to helping young people in London & Middlesex be successful.
“I loved working with London at-risk youth to help them reach their potential,” she says. But Fan wanted to help more people when she wasn’t working and so she signed up as a volunteer with London’s Cross Cultural Learner Centre to help a family from Syria who arrived as refugees.
She also volunteers at the London Chinese Association and with the London Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership to help with strategic planning on how to better support newcomers.
These days, Fan continues to volunteer, while juggling two jobs – one at the John Howard Society working to help build bridges between newcomers and service providers in London and the other as a global engagement coordinator at Western.
She feels dedicated to the work she does. “London is welcoming. People are nice here and they have a strong passion to help newcomers and get to know them, but sometimes they don’t know how. There is a need for someone to be that bridge.”
She says she volunteers to give back the support she received as a newcomer.
“When I got into university I received lots of support from Western. People here make London feel like home to me. That’s why I want to give back.”