Soomi Lee is originally from South Korea. She earned a degree in Education and taught at an elementary school for six years before moving to Calgary. Growing up, Soomi lived abroad and developed a keen interest in immersing herself in different cultures. She met her husband in her early 20s and discovered he also had the same desire. Their dream to live abroad became a reality in 2017 when their young family of two children moved to Canada.

Shortly after arriving in Calgary, Soomi learned about CIWA through a friend and was drawn to its female-centric services. However, she devoted her time to her young children until 2021. When her youngest son was old enough to attend daycare, Soomi decided to enroll in CIWA’s Labour Bridging Market for Volunteers: Interpretation and Translation Program – a decision she says she will forever be grateful for. The program offered her intentional support and mentorship, which helped her become an excellent interpreter and translator.

After completing the program in 2022, Soomi continued to offer Korean interpretation services to clients and gained a reputation for providing exceptional services. She enjoys providing interpretation support and recognizes the importance of volunteering in this capacity. In early 2023, Soomi wanted to explore administrative volunteer opportunities and was assigned at CIWA’s 3rd floor reception, where she provides support to staff and clients. Soomi quickly learned her role and became an integral part of the team.

Soomi says that volunteering at the reception desk is very different from interpretation because she can be more engaging and connect with clients on a personal level. She sees what she does as a ‘positive circle of help’.

It is incredible to be in a place where many of the staff who provide services have been in the shoes of the newcomers they serve. Volunteering has opened my eyes. I can connect with women and provide support to someone because I have been there.

Soomi is a highly reliable volunteer who takes initiative and invests time in learning about different programs at CIWA to better support walk-in clients. She provides positive feedback that helps enhance experiences for future reception support, and staff have confidence in her ability to cover the desk during their absence. Soomi is thoughtful, intentional and brings a sense of calm to the space around her.

When she has spare time, Soomi enjoys rearranging furniture in her home and reading.

To learn more about volunteering at CIWA, click here