We Shine Together: Learner Hema Sawhney

Interview with Hema Sawhney, a learner from English Conversation Group at Halifax Central
Written by Heather, the Library's Volunteer Services Manager

Introducing Hema Sawhney

As the Volunteer Services Manager, I get excited talking about the success of our English conversation groups. Our dedicated and knowledgeable program coordinators and volunteers draw in newcomers from all over the world who join us for many different reasons. Together, they achieve many goals as unique as the newcomers themselves.

Hema Sawhney is one of these participants. She is a newcomer from India and she was happy to share her experience with me to celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week. This is her story.

Transferring skills into English skills

In India, Hema had a very successful career in logistics, as well as being a busy mom of three and wife of a sales manager for a shipping line. When she arrived in Halifax, she knew she had to improve her English communication skills enough to be able to get a job and mingle in the Canadian multicultural society. She looked for an opportunity that would let her transfer her ability to connect with a variety of people and her skills in public speaking—into learning English.

A wonderful path at a lively library

Hema was drawn to the Library due to its “lively atmosphere." And it was at the first floor Welcome Desk at Halifax Central Library where she first heard of the English Conversation Group. She says she will always be grateful to the staff person who told her about the group. As Hema puts it, “The Library helped me to find this wonderful path to enhance my knowledge, confidence, and communication skills.”

Dedication leads to success

Once Hema was in the Conversation Group, she found all of the volunteers “great, helpful, and enthusiastic.” One volunteer in particular, though, was deserving of her special thanks: Mr. Leigh. He worked with Hema through all of the many preparations needed for her work permit interview. Thanks to their shared commitment, "I gained confidence to pass my interview—and got my work permit!”

Congratulations Hema! Many thanks for sharing your story, and also many thanks to all of the English Conversation Group volunteers who help learners like Hema reach their goals and realize their dreams.

Hema Sawhney's story is one in a series of tributes to Library volunteers made for Volunteer Appreciation Week 2022, called When You Shine. Each story shared is as an expression of the Library's appreciation for the many volunteers making our communities better every day.