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The First SinoGeeks Meetup

June 6, 2017.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of immigrants from different countries arrive in Canada to start their new personal and professional journey. Language barriers, lack of networking opportunities, differences in culture and customs are all potential obstacles on their career path.

However, “Diversity is Canada’s strength”, as they say. Immigrants have advanced professional skills and a positive attitude to go with it, something society needs. We feel we can do something for the community.

SinoGeeks Montreal is an online Chinese IT group in the greater Montreal area, originally created in WeChat, a popular social network app in China. Very soon, the group hit the maximum number of members of 500. Every Wednesday night or two, the organizer, Bin Zhu, a development manager from MindGeek, asks a member to share his or her career experience in Canada. Members talk about their job search and experience in Canada, how to adapt to the new country and culture, sharing knowledge, startup ideas and stories… Over 20 members have shared their stories online. Over time, more and more people developed the same hankering: to meet in person to improve communication and strengthen ties.

As a member of SinoGeeks Montreal, I happened to mention this initiative to my employer, Spiria. To my delight, I immediately received their strong support. Spiria kindly provided us with everything needed for a meetup: a nice and spacious meeting place, name badges, drinks and snacks. On May 27th, a Saturday afternoon, 63 Chinese people working in different IT fields and companies, including MindGeeks, Ericsson, Nuance, nZone, Rogers, Nakisa, Staples, and McGill, gathered at the Spiria Montreal offices, and the first meetup of SinoGeeks Montreal was under way. This was also a first for Spiria, as it was its largest meetup event they had hosted to date.

SinoGeeks MeetUp. SinoGeeks MeetUp.
SinoGeeks MeetUp. SinoGeeks MeetUp.

First Impressions

Upon their arrival at Spiria, attendees were immediately impressed by the comfortable working environment. They were also happy to meet our humorous sponsors, Spiria CEO Stéphane Rouleau and VP Patrick Bergeron. Stéphane started with a warm welcome, and Patrick shared a funny story of how they met. It just so happens that they too met online, back in high school.

Patrick Bergeron et Stéphane Rouleau. SinoGeeks MeetUp.
SinoGeeks MeetUp. SinoGeeks MeetUp.

Listening Workshop

After the Sino geeks introduced themselves, Yuan Zhang, a Functional Analyst from Levio, gave a workshop on improving communications skills, called How to Listen Effectively. In daily work and life, people are eager to speak but not so good at listening. Yuan designed interesting games for us to learn effective listening: observe a plant and describe it in detail; tell a story, have it retold, have it analyzed and then evaluate the teller, the re-teller and the analyzer. People were divided into groups to play and share. Throughout the workshop, there were many laughs, and we got to know each other better.

Time just flew by. After the workshop and a one-hour free conversation period, our first meetup in the Spiria Montreal office wrapped up successfully. New friends exchanged contact information, some of us decided to do dinner together, and the volunteers stayed behind to clean. We were tired but excited. We know we can give back to the community, thanks to the efforts of every member of the group and Spiria’s generous support. We are looking forward to meeting up again in the future to help more skilled immigrants continue to advance their career paths in their new country.

SinoGeeks MeetUp. SinoGeeks MeetUp.

Many thanks to the diligent photographers for capturing wonderful moments at Spiria (photos by Teng Han, system administration by Vigilant, and video by Wayne, a senior QA at Touchtunes).

Check out the meetup video: