Vivian's Got a Job!

By: Vivian Chan

When I learned to lean on the support of others from the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group, share my worries, battle wounds, hopes and joys with John Chow, and my second family established in the group, I finally made decisions beyond just because they “made sense” or was the “right thing to do”. These decisions would then become the twists and turns of my life – it wasn’t made any easier, but I sure enjoyed the hell of a ride I was getting from it. This is my story – and it’s about a lot of people. You’re probably going to expect a sappy growing up, caterpillar-into-butterfly, transformation-esque and lengthy story – and you’re probably every bit correct, but I’m not going to apologize for it either. These “successes” often go drastically under-celebrated, and I’m here share and paint a sliver of this grander picture and running history of excellence within the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group.

I grew up with a strictly-packed schedule throughout. My parents enrolled me in almost everything – pottery, painting, table tennis, math, tae-kwon-do, computers, technology, piano, band, singing, music composition…you name it and I’ve probably been to a class for it. It wasn’t too long until I had a bunch of seemingly-random skills under my belt. As the typical story goes, I enrolled in UBC Sciences, bumbled my way through the massive education system but I did not, honestly, have the slightest idea what I would do with a degree. I mean, I had ideas – medical school – but that was about all of it. In amidst all that, I decided to join this new “crew” because it made sense: I saw it as an outlet for my volunteer energy; I felt compelled to give back to the Scouting program, having grown up in it since 10 years old. Little did I know, or expect, or even imagine that this decision would go on to shape the rest of my educational and career path thereon.


Vivian teaching another Scout Leader how to tie a knot during the 28th Richmond Scout Group’s Leader Retreat

6 or so years ago, I joined the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group, as a quiet, nerdy, stubborn, bored child with too much pent up excitement and energy about Scouting and my future. Today, I probably am still just as quiet, nerdy, stubborn and pent up with energy, but I now come with a story that many others have also come to experience as a result of being with this group. I must say I’m not entirely unique in my transformation, as you may have noticed with the abundance of success stories; but I will say I am more than willing to share a story that still leaves me breathless at times.

The turning point of my story? An email to John Chow, our group’s head advisor and founder, because I felt like it was the “right thing” to do. There, John took me under his wing for what would evolve into weeks, months and years. At each of our one-on-one mentoring session, his face scrunched up much too frequently, in disbelief and perhaps frustrated at my reluctance to take risks to facilitate learning. Growing up, I never allowed myself to fail and thus padded my life in such a way that I’d never have to deal with failure. In my books, failure was not an option ever to be exercised even in the most dire hours. I was scared beyond any words available to my vocabulary (at least that allowed to be published) every time John pushed my abilities. As extreme as my case sounds, I came to learn I was not alone. I was going to war alongside others in the Scout Group who faced similar thoughts – we were all just at varying stages of embracing challenges and failures.

Eventually everything just worked out. I moved out of town twice for work terms, took courses that I fell in love with, volunteered with Scouts, built a strong community within the Scout Group, traveled to the Philippines and China with the group to deliver topics on climate change awareness where we got sick, got angry, cried and laughed as one united… It was a surreal storm of success that I did not appreciate enough because I was not convinced my luck would run for much longer. All this time, John and the growing Scout Group continued to stay by my side – and how glad I am they did. As University graduation loomed inevitably ahead, my worries grew. What was a girl dubbed a “smart farmer” supposed to do with her degree? I was empowered to make bigger and better changes for the world – but how?


Vivian facilitating Climate Awareness workshop during Philippines International Service Project in 2009

One fateful mention of a job opening from Abigail Syyong, now an Advisor to the Scout Group, over coffee after a Scout project meeting, alongside a lot of faith and prep help from her, John and many others later – I now work as a project consultant, a job I had only thought of “eventually” landing when I garnered enough experience “somewhere”. I wanted to be a consultant because I enjoy fast-paced work, I enjoy solving problems, and I enjoy traveling – all experiences I was exposed to repeatedly in the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group. (And as life would have it, I am actually writing this as I am traveling for work!)

As a small conclusion to this chapter and the teaser to a new one, I now work as a consultant for large capital projects (bridges, dams, tunnels, ports, farms (!), roads, buildings…etc) at KPMG. Never did I think for a moment that I would be working at one of the “big four” firms of the world. None of this would have been possible without working with people in the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group.

The moral of the story? I don’t think about where I can’t work, I only see possibilities now – no, this is only secondary in my story. The moral of the story is learning to trust those around me, believe that it was not by luck we were brought together in this Scout Group, and that those in the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group genuinely give from the depths of their hearts. We all wish for nothing less than the smashing success of others, and we’ve also got the artillery to deliver on our wishes – the proof is in the pudding, just look at all our success stories!


Vivian with Eric Cheung, Paul Leung and Darren Shum enroute to China for the 2012 International Service Project

Gratitude is poorly expressed with words, and as such I won’t attempt here. I will, instead, make my attempts to inspire hope, passion and energy for those waiting for their turning points. My generation will assume opportunities fall at our feet, free to our choosing, but I have learned reality is much so otherwise. Be willing to fail and answer truthfully when someone asks “what is the worst that can happen?”. Healthy doses of laughter and tears help, but above all else, saturate yourself in the culture of generosity and curiosity that the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group brews. You cannot dip your toes in – jump in!

No other words, other than those of John Chow, seem more fitting at this point: can we do it?

The answer is always: yes we can. I can. You can. And together, we will be even more. Here’s to another chapter, and many more to come (as I raise my cup of tomato juice in flight to all).

Until next time,
Vivian Chan

Vivian 150Vivian Chan first joined the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group back in 2007 but has been in the Scouting program as a youth in the Cub section. Since joining the Scout Group, Vivian has taken up the project manager role in various projects and has participated in our International Service Project to the Philippines in 2010 and to China 2012. Over the years, Vivian has lived by our mission statement and has been an active contributor to the success of Scouting in Canada.

Vivian graduated with a Bachelor of Science in UBC, majoring in Food Market Analysis. She is currently employed at KPMG as a consultant for project management and delivery contracts.


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