You know immediately upon meeting Monika Schrott that she would be helpful and caring with anyone she met. She exudes an aura of kindness. Canada is fortunate that she emigrated from Austria in 1995.
Schrott worked as an office communications specialist for 10 years in Switzerland and commuted to work between Switzerland and Austria every day.
“Even as a skilled worker, it was not easy to apply for jobs here,” she said, because she did not have any Canadian work experience. So, in order to overcome that, she made the conscious decision to get to know the community better, signing up for training and programs that would help her to understand how Canadians look for work.
She attended English classes at Vernon and District Immigrant and Community Services Society (VDICSS). The executive director at the time asked her to be the volunteer secretary for the Board of Directors, which Schrott viewed as an opportunity to learn more.
This early willingness to make herself available paid off, as she was then hired as a computer instructor for the newcomers group and then later was an Employment Counsellor for VDICSS.
Schrott shares that working at VDICSS “was not easy in the beginning to adapt and understand people from all over the world.”
But she thrived on the challenge, easily recognizing the courage it took for immigrants who did not speak English to transplant themselves into a new country, a new culture, trying to learn the language, plus finding work in order to survive.
“I tried to support new immigrants through difficult times, as they shared their fears and frustrations,” Schrott explained. “It was challenging to find the right words to encourage someone who was feeling depressed when they had to work at a minimum wage job, despite their professional qualifications.”
“As an employment counsellor, I was always trying to help people to reach their dream job. I feel so fortunate because working with people from different cultures was always my personal dream. Before coming to Canada I explored and learned a lot about different cultures as I have travelled all over the world. It was a perfect fit for me.”
Schrott’s enthusiasm spills over when she speaks of helping others to find a place in Canada where they fit and can be happy.
She believes, it takes a special place to be home to a global culture. British Columbia is such a place. Our differences are also our strengths.
Our varied backgrounds give us a rich and unique perspective as a society that is comfortable with change, ready for the future and at home in the world.
She is proud to be a Canadian and loves the fact that “Canadian people are not judgmental; they are easy going and accept you for who you are.”
Even in her semi-retirement, Schrott is reaching out and volunteering for community services, and still offers translation if someone needs this service.