Okanagan College Vernon campus’ cultural liaison for International Education, Mia Salmon, is the Community Champion for December 2020. (Contributed)

Okanagan College Vernon campus’ cultural liaison for International Education, Mia Salmon, is the Community Champion for December 2020. (Contributed)

Community Champion: Mia Salmon provides friendly ear to newcomers

Cultural liaison for Vernon college’s international education program December Community Champion

Mia Salmon emigrated from the south of England five years ago with her husband and three children. Mia and her family have travelled the world and studied, lived and worked abroad, particularly in the Middle East. Mia and her husband made long term plans to move to Canada when the time was right.

Mia and her family have settled into Canadian life and they take part in skiing, hiking and yoga. Mia enjoys photography as well.

Prior to coming to Canada, while still in England, Mia was very involved with the 90-strong Military Wives Choir. They sang at Royal Albert Hall and the Invictus Games where she met Prince Harry and Boris Johnson, now the current prime minister of England.

She understands how it feels to move to a new country, and despite knowing the language, found there were still a few hills to climb.

Mia is the Cultural Liaison for International Education at Okanagan College in Vernon. Simply put, she connects with all the international students at the college trying to make them feel comfortable while welcoming them to Canada at the same time.

“I provide a friendly ear when needed,” she said.

Mia has a reputation for going above and beyond her job description. Earlier in her employment with the college, Mia won a service excellence award as a receptionist in 2018. This was an acknowledgement of her excellent customer service skills which included helping international students. So it seemed to be a natural fit for her to become the cultural liaison for international education.

She helps students from other cultures from the moment they arrive and provides support, helping with the paperwork around different courses and with finding a place to live. She understands how homesick and lonely a student may feel and has helped to create different events at the college.

One of the events was for Diwali the Festival of Light which was celebrated with food and dancing and decorations. This was followed by the Chinese New Year and all the decorations and activities that go with that celebration.

She has worked with students from the Philippines, Columbia, Jamaica, Brazil, India, China and the Middle East.

“There is a joy in seeing people far away from home, be able to integrate into student life, even with the culture shock of being away from their families. It is lovely to see them succeed,” she said.

As a child, Mia lived in Kuwait with her parents.

When Iraq invaded the country, her father was taken hostage for three months. The building they lived in housed military people, so they had to destroy all paperwork and clothing that may give them away, wearing only the clothing of the country and basically go into hiding. It was a frightening time for Mia and her family. She celebrated her 13th birthday while in hiding.

Due to Mia’s life experiences, she feels this has given her the skills to help others who may be experiencing challenges that arise when moving to a foreign country.

The monthly Community Champion feature is submitted by Respect Works Here, which is an initiative of the Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan. They are also the host agency for the Local Immigration Partnership Council and the Thompson Okanagan Respect Network.

READ MORE: Community Champion: Amanda Shatzko leads by opening door for others

READ MORE: Stolen Lake Country ATM found in Kelowna backcountry


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fun 4 All Pet Resort is closed for two weeks following a COVID-19 outbreak among staff. (Fun 4 All photo)
COVID closes Vernon dog daycare

Two staff members test positive at dog boarding centre

Armstrong Regional Co-op is now taking applications from charities and non-profit groups for proceeds from the 2021 Fuel Good Day event at co-op gas bars in Armstrong, Vernon and Salmon Arm. Fuel Good Day will be Tuesday, Sept. 21. (Black Press - file photo)
Co-op fuels North Okanagan-Shuswap charities, non-profits with cash

Applications being taken for proceeds from 2021 Fuel Good Day event to be held Tuesday, Sept. 21

Bruce Mol has taken his cycling education to Youtube during the pandemic. He explains how to navigate Vernon’s new double-roundabout intersection at 29th and 30th Street in his latest video published May 3, 2021. (Contributed)
VIDEO: Cycling educator shows how to navigate Vernon’s new roundabouts

Bruce Mol demonstrates how cyclists can use the city’s new north-south corridor

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Vanilla flavouring contains goo from beaver butts

Your morning start for Friday, May 7, 2021

The Duteau Creek storage reservoir provides 60 per cent of the water that services the Greater Vernon area, according to the Regional District of North Okanagan. (Contributed)
Vernon mayor pushes for water sustainability action now

Victor Cumming says adoption of existing study data only requires political willpower

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Leaked report shows detailed B.C. COVID-19 data not being released to public

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Abbotsford school board trustee Phil Anderson has stepped down after sharing an offensive image on Facebook. (File photo)
Abbotsford trustee temporarily steps down after sharing post relating COVID masks to slavery

Phil Anderson to receive training to better understand provincial mask mandate after posting picture

B.C. announced the launch of an app May 7 that connects youth struggling with mental health and substance use with “life-saving” social services. (Screen grab)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youth and children launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6-million to fund a virtual care platform

Spring Valley Seniors Community long-term care home. (Google)
Three people die as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Kelowna care home

Outbreak was declared at Kelowna’s Spring Valley long-term care home on April 28

Last year, Vernon’s Simolo Customs Ltd. received Transport Canada approval to build its low-speed electric NXT vehicles. (Contributed)
Low-speed electric vehicles given green light for Sicamous roads

Council approves bylaw for zero-emission vehicles

Amazon has announced the creation of five new facilities in B.C., to employ about 2,000 people. (Amazon/Special to Black Press Media)
Amazon adds new facilities in Langley, Pitt Meadows, Delta, Vancouver

The Vancouver port centre will be the first Amazon centre to feature robotics in B.C.

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

15,000 sleep sacks worth $500,000 will be distributed to mothers and young families in need across Canada. (Contributed)
Kelowna non-profit to distribute $500K-worth of ‘sleep sacks’ across Canada

The sleep sacks were donated to Mamas for Mamas to distribute to mothers in need

Most Read