To prepare for the start of a new school year, over 500 newcomers attended the District's annual Newcomer Orientation Event, hosted by Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS), at Tupper Secondary. SWIS is a school-based settlement service that helps immigrant families meet settlement requirements, which includes transitioning into Vancouver schools.
On the first day, workshops were held by English Language Learners (ELL) Consultants, settlement workers, and multicultural liaison workers to educate families on how and what to prepare for the first day of school. Workshops were in nine languages (English, Korean, Arabic, Cantonese, Punjabi/Hindi, Spanish, Farsi, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Mandarin).
One of the event volunteers included Yuan Li, a recent newcomer who is eager to be involved at public school events and help other families. Li suggests that "it's not very hard, there is so much support and [my family] felt very welcomed."
For Hina Mahajan and her family, recent Indian immigrants, they arrived in Vancouver two months ago. Mahajan shares that "when you are from outside [the country], you may feel alone and not know most things," says Mahajan."We met with our settlement worker and she connected us with so many people in the community. It was eye-opening." Her daughter will be attending Kindergarten, who is also excited to learn and make new friends.
There were also 40 different local service providers and organizations invited to the community resource fair for newcomer families to feel connected within the community. Leonard, a youth ambassador who was once a newcomer himself, says "after finding out about the event from my school counsellor this year, I wanted to volunteer to give back to the community."He showed many event attendees, particularly youth, the different booths within the community resource fair and the opportunities that they bring.
The Newcomer Orientation continues to be a successful transition event and important start to the school year. The District works hard to provide as much support as needed to prepare newcomer students and families before attending Vancouver schools.
Find out more information about the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program.