For many newcomer students, navigating the Canadian education system can be quite challenging. To give students a better understanding of the new education environment and school culture, CultureLink’s Settlement Workers in Schools Program (SWIS) annually hosts a four-day Newcomer Orientation Week Program (NOW) at selected schools, one week before school year begins. The overall goal is to promote confidence in the newcomer youth by providing a circle of new friends with similar experiences and an understanding of school rules and personnel in the hopes that this new life will bring more awareness and success both academically and personally.
Activities are led and supported by volunteer Peer Leaders, who are past NOW program participants. This year, approximately 30 Peer Leaders were recruited, representing Central Technical Institute, Central Toronto Academy, Harbord Collegiate, Jarvis Collegiate, St. Mary’s, Bishop Morrocco, Bishop Allen and St. Joseph College schools. They participated in two days of intensive leadership and training activities led by the SWIS Team, to prepare them to pass on their NOW knowledge to a fresh group of newcomer immigrant students. Peer Leaders provide direct support to newcomer students making them feel welcome, informed about and comfortable with their upcoming school experience, and gain valuable leadership experience themselves.
By Abdi Yousuf, Assistant Manager, Settlement Workers in Schools