Irena Novichkova, left, Nick Gakena and Corey Anderson pose by their furry friend at the chamber of commerce office in Sooke. Novichkova said her favourite part about Sooke is all the nature, and being able to see the stars at night. (Dawn Gibson/Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke Chamber of Commerce gets a worldly view on business

Russian business student Irena Novichkova helps draw up telecommuting project for Sooke

The Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce is gaining an international perspective this week by welcoming a Russian business student to job shadow.

Over the course of five weeks, Irena Novichkova, 20, has been working at different businesses around the Island in hopes to gain experience on how Canadian businesses operate, and is working with the chamber for five days. She’s sponsored by Rotary International and by Irkutsk University in Siberia.

“It’s been great having her here, we’d keep her if she’d stay,” said Corey Anderson project manager at the chamber. “Being able to collaborate has been really interesting, and we are learning a lot from one another. You can use the internet all you want but it’s not the same as talking with a person face to face.”

Novichkova started at the chamber on July 24, and is working on a telecommuting project, which will hopefully allow locals to work from Sooke without having to travel to downtown Victoria.

“She has found funding sources and talked to retired CEOs. It’s actually been a really great opportunity to connect with Irina and for her to connect with the community,” said Anderson.

Anderson hopes the project will make Sooke a planned and prosperous community by helping businesses working elsewhere connect with employees in Sooke, without them having to make a long commute.

“It would be nice if the paper really helped the region, and hopefully the chamber will create this telecommuting centre here,” she said.

Novichkova has also found time to enjoy what the Island has to offer by participating in Canada Day celebrations, going to her first baseball game, and exploring many of the tourist hot spots. She explained that her favourite part about Sooke is the nature, the small town feel.

“I love that you can see the stars here. Before bed I leave my blinds open and I am able to look out and see the all stars every night,” said Novichkova.

She has enjoyed getting to know all the different host families she’s been staying with, and likes trying different Canadian meals.

“Canadians eat a lot of bread here,” laughed Novichkova. “So many sandwiches and burgers, but it’s all good.”

She explained that things are fairly similar here to where she’s from, and that she loves spending time outdoors both here and at home.

“I like the people here, they are always very friendly,” she said. “But mostly I love the nature here, and being able to see the ocean every day, it’s just beautiful.”

John Topolniski, past president of the Sooke Rotary Club and host for Novichkova while she’s in Sooke, said he’s enjoyed having her here.

Topolniski has been a host for many international groups when they come to visit Sooke. He explained that he likes getting to know them in the short time that they visit, and learning about other cultures.

“People get these preconceived ideas about other countries because of politics, but when you actually sit down and talk with someone from another country, you realize we are all pretty much the same,” said Topolniski.