Delta School District summer programs have helped recent immigrants get oriented in daily life in Canada.

Summer program helps newcomers look to success

Delta School District supported recently immigrated families by offering a fun and informative summer orientation program.

  • Aug. 31, 2013 2:00 p.m.

For the sixth consecutive summer, the Delta School District supported recently immigrated families by offering a fun and informative summer orientation program providing education about life in Canada and in Delta, and explaining what to expect in the Canadian public school system.

Settling into life in a new country brings with it a host of unique opportunities and challenges for newcomers.

The Delta School District’s Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program aids newcomers in navigating their initial settlement in Canada by working directly with both students and families.

An important part of these efforts includes annually partnering with Progressive Intercultural Community Services to provide a month-long summer orientation day camp for recently arrived students and their families.

“We realize that in order to help our newcomer students be successful, we also need to support their parents, grandparents and other family members,” said Hemi Dhanoa, Delta SWIS worker and coordinator/facilitator of the Summer Newcomer Orientation Program (SNOP).

“Our district’s Vision expresses that ‘education takes place in all parts of the community.’ By helping immigrant families adjust to Canadian life, we are establishing a positive foundation for our newcomer students.”

This year’s SNOP provided daily programming for 28 elementary aged students for the month of July. Student activities included a variety of workshop activities and community-based field trips.

The goal of the program is to help students increase their understanding of the educational system and to learn more about the recreational and social resources in both Delta and the Lower Mainland.

Field trip destinations included trips to the Vancouver Aquarium, local libraries and the Delta Police Station.

Through these various activities, students had opportunities to not only learn more about life in Canada, but also to build their communication skills and self-confidence.

The immediate goal of the program is to help scaffold each student’s ongoing transition to school life in Canada by helping them to increase their “Canadian” background knowledge and enabling them to return to school from a position of strength and confidence.

SNOP also included opportunities for parents and caregivers to learn more about life in Canada.

In addition to participating in some activities with their children such as field trips, 27 parents and caregivers also participated in a series of settlement orientation sessions where they discussed the differences and similarities between schools in Canada and elsewhere, the value of accessing and contributing to community resources, and the realities of parenting in a new culture.

The goal of these workshops was to help newcomer parents and caregivers gain a fuller understanding of life and school-life in Canada with the hope that this knowledge will help support their family’s settlement and integration in Canada.

“I realize no words can ever express our gratitude to you in letting our (children) enjoy their first summer in Canada this much,” said one parent.

“The program is really, really good,” said one student. “I like the way you taught us about Canada.”

Funding for the SWIS initiative and the SNOP is provided by the Immigrant Integration Branch of the British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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