By Hanaa Al Sadi
The experience of transitioning to life in Canada is different for every newcomer, but all newcomers need support and time to become accustomed to their new communities and adapt to a whole new life in Canada.
CultureLink provides innovative programs which enable Syrians adapt to their new life based on their needs, skills, and job preferences.
Two prime examples are the Hospitality Language Training project and the Mothercraft childcare training project.
The Hospitality Language Training Project started in October 2017 in partnership with the Hospitality Workers Training Centre. It has run in three cohorts and was developed to help Syrian newcomers build their language and occupational skills and knowledge in the areas of food preparation, food safety and sanitation, guest services and customer relations, banquet and restaurant services. Already, 30 participants have participated in the program which has enabled them to improve their language skills, gain critical Canadian workplace cultural knowledge and job search techniques.
In the second case, CultureLink has partnered with Mothercraft College to provide basic training at no cost to Syrian women who are interested in providing quality child care in their own homes.
This program gives participants the tools they need to work successfully with children, parents and community agencies. It increases their level of professionalism and improves their communication skills. It helps them gain a better understanding of child development and children’s needs, make social connections with other providers and receive a training certificate that is recognized by GTA Home Child Care agencies.
While recruiting participants for these programs, I met with other future potential Syrian participants who are in need of employment and eager to join the workforce. However, the required English language level for these programs is CLB 4 and up while the English language level of the majority of interested Syrian newcomers ranges between CLB 2 up to CLB 4. Thus, to overcome this obstacle and to facilitate the possibility for Syrians to achieve their dreams, I started Syrian Online Support (SOS) English Conversation Circle via WhatsApp and email. I created a WhatsApp group that comprises all the participants who are willing and eager to improve their English language level and eventually join other programs. On August 7, 2017, 6 participants joined the WhatsApp. Now I have 27 participants. I used to meet with them online every day for one hour from 9:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m. where I explain the lesson in Arabic and English. Then, I create related worksheets and send to the group via the group email. Some of these participants improved their English and joined the Hospitality Program and one joined the Child Care Program.