Just six years ago, Lan Hu did a google search from her home in China and discovered Fredericton, New Brunswick.
“What’s your opinion of moving [to New Brunswick, Canada]?” Hu recalled saying to her husband. “He said ‘good’. So we just flew here!” Hu said, laughing.
It may sound like impetuous behaviour for a woman with a young family and an already-established career in teaching and academic administration in China, but Hu, who has recently received an impressive promotion to the position of Registrar at Yorkville University in Fredericton, attributes her determination, courage and success, in large part, to her attitude.
“My husband and I are an interesting couple because I think we are both very positive and very carefree. It has always been one of my dreams to move to another country because I did my Master’s degree in England. Then I went back to China, and I started to work in a Chinese public university, and I missed my life in England.”
Hu chose New Brunswick for a number of reasons, including the province’s linguistic diversity.
“New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada, and I thought that was good, because French is my second foreign language, and I have a Master’s degree in Linguistics,” she said. “Most of the jobs [in Fredericton] are government jobs or university jobs, and I thought I could go there and find a job in a university.”
Hu was under no illusions, however, that her transition would be easy.
“I think I was very well-prepared. I didn’t expect to come to Canada and be met with a beautiful or decent job. No, I was prepared to do any job that I could get. When I arrived, I applied to Tim Horton’s and hotel jobs, but I could never get any interviews,” said Hu. “Then I talked to my employment counsellor, and he said, ‘Lan, the reason [you aren’t getting interviews] is that you are overqualified for those jobs.”
Her employment counsellor advised her to stay focused on the educational field, and within her first week in New Brunswick, she landed an interview with Yorkville University.
“I was so naive, so excited and so worried. I had very mixed feelings. It was like a dream. Then, unfortunately, they selected another woman, and not me. Later, [the Registrar] told me they had made a mistake, and I said, ‘Obviously’.” Hu laughed.
However, she quickly found a position with the Central Valley Adult Learning Association, in their downtown Fredericton office. Then, the unexpected occurred.
“One year later, [the Registrar] called me again, and she was offering me a term position,” said Hu.
But she didn’t feel she could give up the safety of her full-time job with the Central Valley Adult Learning Association for a contract position, so she turned the offer down.
“I said ‘No, I cannot take the risk’, but still, I felt so appreciated because they could still remember me, and I had a very good conversation,” she explained.
The third time was a charm. The following year, just as Hu was beginning to consider trying to find a new job, Yorkville called again, this time with a full-time permanent position.
“They offered me the job, and I became an admissions officer,” said Hu. “When I first got the position, I wasn’t so sure whether I could do it. In China, you wouldn’t only be a student advisor. That is to say before I got this position I was always a teacher. But I found that I made the right choice. Because I like what I do, and I feel like I am a good fit for it. I love what I’m doing.”
In addition to her promotion, one of the many results of Hu’s positivity and tenacity is her upcoming feature with the Asian Heritage Society of New Brunswick in celebration of Asian Heritage Month this May.
“They selected a few different people [to showcase], because we have the biggest community from China here in Fredericton,” Hu said. “They are going to make a video about me and write a story too, so hopefully I can share my experience with new immigrants, about the challenges that I have met and how I overcame those challenges and barriers.”
Hu’s focus, however, has never been on the hurdles that come with making a new life, but rather on the opportunities. This mindset is what she makes a point of sharing with fellow immigrants.
“I always encourage them, and I tell them first that it’s so important that you have a positive attitude. You’re there, people see you, and the moment they look at your face, they try to guess what kind of person you are. That’s why smiling and being confident is so important,” said Hu, enthusiastically. “The moment I enter a room, I look at people and [I assume] they like me, and I just think ‘They like me, and I like them’. A positive attitude is so important. I tend not to focus so much on the negative emotional sides; I focus on how to improve our spiritual life, how to solve real problems; the practical problems in our life.”
Along with her exceptional outlook on life, Hu brings to her new position as Registrar of Yorkville University meticulous attention to detail, and a commitment to respect, accountability and open communication, all of which inform her views on guiding and managing others.
“I tell my team members, remember that you are respected. You should be respected,” Hu stated. “If for some reason you feel you’re not being respected, make sure you let me know, because sometimes it’s a misunderstanding, or it might be a cultural difference. But it’s so good to make it transparent, and to talk about it.”
Even with her radiant outlook, though, things weren’t always easy for Hu, even at Yorkville. “Sometimes my supervisor would ask me, ‘ok Lan, do you have any complaints or difficult situations?’ And I would say, ‘yes, sometimes, but I just focus on how to solve the problem,” she recalled.
In her role as registrar, she interacts with many students, some of whom are struggling with Yorkville’s rigorous program.
“I always try to encourage them saying, ‘in two years, you’ll look back and think, Wow. I’m so proud of myself.’”
Contributed by Yolande Clark. Yolande is Yorkville University’s Alumni Relations Officer. In addition to connecting with Yorkville’s amazing alumni, she loves to read and to spend time with her family.
To find out more about Yorkville University and its programs click here (http://bit.ly/1nTGLoC)