By: Jean Chow
In these uncertain and unprecedented times of social distancing and self-isolation, we still have so much…even toilet paper. We’ve all had to adapt to a “new normal”. Working in a world of
Zoom, we can connect with whoever whenever. Life wasn’t always like this.
My Career Journey:
When all we had was snail mail, I left the Saskatchewan prairies for the sweeping African savanna. Trusting the career advice from my Vice-President of Finance, I landed an exciting (and well-paid) posting to live and work as a Project Accountant in Lusaka, Zambia. My world suddenly grew exponentially, literally turning my prairie life upside down.
Friends and family were concerned for my survival and to this day, they do not know that I not only survived but also thrived in the developing world. I faced extraordinary challenges and adapted quickly. Learn by doing. Meeting new people and building relationships came naturally and over the years, has become my superpower. My fondest memory: Zambia “adopted” me as a national citizen so that I could represent the country in international squash tournaments in East and Central Africa – simply life-changing!
My Favourite Professional Moment:
Watching my mentees “pay it forward” is my all-time favourite professional moment. When my mentees jump in and say “yes” to helping others, I’m elated and grateful. I strive hard to lead by example and with empathy.
I’m inspired by the spirit of generosity by those who have more modest incomes. To understand the true meaning of giving is to understand and experience receiving:
• The incredible hospitality of my Indonesian friend who lived in a two-room home with a dirt floor along with her husband and their five children.
• The gentle kindness of my dear, deceased friend who surprised me when I walked in the door of their family home having moved in temporarily the day before and found my desk assembled. I had just returned from closing my factory doors on my 12-year old food business.
• The immense generosity of the stranger who gave me the TTC bus fare when the driver refused me entry while standing in the rain.
My Hopes For The Future:
“One word, one action, or one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring them joy. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize. It just takes one.