Volunteer of the Month

Hong Tram

Hong
Tram

Hong Tram is Immigrant Services Calgary’s Volunteer of the Month

Hong came to volunteer with ISC in 1986, a time when we were still Calgary Immigrant Aid Society, because “I have been given so much in my Canadian life and I need to give back. I feel great when I have the opportunity to help”. She has fulfilled various roles over the years and contributed hundreds of volunteer hours.

“Hong is one of the best volunteer translators I have worked with while at Language Bank. She is fluent in Vietnamese, Mandarin and Cantonese and together we completed countless projects. She always stood out as one of the most reliable, knowledgeable and punctual volunteer translators. Working with Hong was easy because I knew that her translations were going to be in line with the professional standards.” - Alina Ghita-Visinescu, Volunteer Developer

In 2018, Hong also started to support ISC’s Seniors Program and soon became known and appreciated as the graceful, soft-spoken lady who facilitates different activities for immigrant seniors.

“Hong is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteer with Immigrant Services Calgary’s Seniors Program. She has been facilitating ‘Life Skills for Seniors’ literacy classes. Hong has been a great help to the program, as she has always been to all the program events, regardless of short notice. She is a very reliable, flexible, and committed individual with strong organizational skills, which she has illustrated through various agency events as well as at regular Life Skills classes.” – Parminder Gill, Community Initiatives for Immigrant Seniors Program Facilitator

This is her story.

I escaped from Vietnam with my three siblings four decades ago. Fortunately, our journey of freedom brought us to the beautiful Canada, where we were blessed and given a better life in Calgary.

We had no money in our name and knew no one; however, we were lucky enough to receive an open-arm welcome and unconditional support from our sponsors - four out of the five families who were living out of Bragg Creek County at the time, an hour's drive from Calgary. Unexpectedly, they also brought along a Chinese interpreter who spoke Cantonese. It was Halloween day, they did not want to scare us, and sent us to the York Hotel downtown for the night. The next day, we were brought to a house that they rented for us to live in, with plenty of furniture, clothing and food. I am so grateful for their generosity and kindness; this is why I am passionate about giving back to the community because I have received so much in life and should give as well.

Today I am a proud Canadian and grateful for the positive humanitarian considerations of the Canadian Government forty years ago.

Over the years, I have discovered that my favourite thing to do in my free time is volunteering. Besides volunteering for Immigrant Services Calgary, I have also been volunteering for a variety of different organizations within the Chinese community and carried out a number of different roles. No matter the activity, I loved it.

Once, I wrote an email to my employer about my volunteer work for one organization and the kind of project, and the petroleum company was kind enough to send a cheque for $250 to the organization. Everyone was surprised, including me, but Canadian companies encourage their employees to volunteer.

During my working years, I studied at SAIT part-time to earn my accounting certificates. I had a pretty extensive and diverse career in different accounting roles that I have enjoyed.

I taught for five years in an elementary school back in my hometown, and recently I become interested in teaching English to seniors. This reminds me of how lucky I am, although I was trained to teach the heritage language at Southern Alberta Heritage Language Association (SAHLA) 14 years ago. I believe in lifelong learning, I have my heartfelt admiration for the elderly learners who share my beliefs.

I joined the Calgary Immigrant Aid Society as a volunteer interpreter, later a Language Bank translator of the Vietnamese language, and then an Income Tax Preparer. In my spare time, I love travelling, hiking with friends and exercising.

I sincerely thank Immigrant Services Calgary for nominating me as Volunteer of the Month, and giving me the opportunity to give back to the community.”

Thank you for your long-time support and community service, Hong. We are grateful for your dedication and generosity. Congratulations!