Global Connection group kickoff offers community for employees from diverse lands and cultures
Spomenka Biener came to the U.S. from the former Yugoslavia as a child. She remembers the challenge of adjusting to a new culture and learning a new language. Even now, though speaking apparently flawless English, she’ll occasionally search for the right English word and need to ask a colleague for help, she told the crowd at the kickoff for the BJC Global Connection group, April 2, at the BJC Learning Institute.
Throughout her BJC career, originally as a talent acquisition specialist recruiting interpreters (she had worked at another organization as an interpreter), Biener told the group she’d encountered patients, employees or job candidates from another country or culture, and remembered how alone she could feel in a place without others who understood her home language or culture.
Conversations between Biener and fellow talent acquisition specialist Liz Ricci about giving BJC employees from other countries or cultures a place to share their experiences, teach others about their own background or culture and create a sense of community, led to them beginning the process of starting a BJC Connections group.
“We had talked about how nice it would be to have a place where people could come and talk candidly about their experiences and be friends,” Biener said.
The group’s executive sponsor, Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital president Trish Lollo, told the crowd that she can identify with those suddenly finding themselves trying to fit into a new culture, although she doesn’t have an international background.
“It’s hard to break into the culture here (in St. Louis), at first,” said the Long Island, New York, native. And that’s what excited her about being tapped as the executive sponsor of the new group, she said.
The BJC workforce is larger than the population of Edwardsville, Illinois, where she now lives, and helping employees make social connections with each other can boost their well-being. “Those social connections are a way for us to take care of each other,” she said.
Among other speakers at the kickoff were Pilar Kellogg, an Ecuadorian native, and Ana Rodriguez, originally from Mexico, who both shared information about BJC interpreter services.
Chelsea Sheridan Hand, of the International Institute of St. Louis, gave a brief history of the organization and wide range of services it’s provided to immigrants and refugees from more than 100 nations. The Global Connection group will attend the International Institute’s Festival of Nations event Aug. 24-25 at Tower Grove Park.
For more information about the new BJC Global Connection group, contact Biener and Ricci at [email protected].
You can also connect with the group on Workplace, BJC’s social media and engagement tool. If you have yet to join Workplace, get started by visiting the BJC Workplace page on BJCnet under For Employees. Once you’re signed up, search for the Global group and join.
Diversity and inclusion are a big part of BJC’s identity, and an important step to inclusiveness is connecting with and understanding one another.