Friday, October 2, 2009
New Immigrants and ESL Intersect for Me
Several notable events have intersected in my life this past week. One is our church sponsored refugees have arrived. The other is I am teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) several evenings a week through a joint sponsored federal and provincial program.
The Palestinian family of seven, including children with ages of 5,6,12, 17, and 18, arrived from Syria last Wednesday where they spent 5 years in a refugee camp in the desert. The father had worked in Iraq where he was separated from this family for several years. The children have some schooling. The oldest graduated from high school there and hopes to go to college some day. I am involved in getting the whole family enrolled at school. First they receive a TB test before they can be registered and their immunization records are reviewed.
The church is financially obligated to support the family for the first year. They moved into a comfortable 3 bedroom two story townhouse complex. Groups of volunteers have furnished the house and provided them with all the necessities including bikes and toys for the children. Plans are moving ahead for telephone and cable service. Regular shopping trips with transportation is coordinated along with appointments with a doctor, setting up their own bank account, etc.
Their immediate response to their arrival was pleasant and enthusiastic. They are looking forward to school and learning English and are grateful for their comfortable home and care. The eldest sent an email to friends and family in Syria expressing their safe and happy arrival.
The Mennonite Central Committee refugee assistance program works in step with Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Secondly I meet with my class of 10-12 ESL students several evenings a week. The parents of our refugee family will be attending the same facility in the mornings where I teach. As a retired high school English teacher this assignment is shifting gears in perspective somewhat, but there is still the goal of energized learning. I hope I can provide meaningful connections. These new immigrants see English proficiency as a key to opportunities within their new country.
I will post occasionally about the family's progress. (The two teddy bears are gifts given to the children upon arrival.)