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VSB SWIS Program Connects Newcomers to Communities

This year's Lunar New Year Multicultural and Resources Fest held at the Kerrisdale Community Centre showed the beauty of collaboration between schools and community partners in connecting newcomers into the mainstream and promoting civic participation in many ways.

The event was organized by the Vancouver School Board Settlement Workers In Schools (SWIS), a program which has been welcoming and integrating newcomers in schools and communities since 2007. 

The 180 immigrant students and parents across the districts who volunteered at the event had the valuable opportunity to step out of their comfort zone to learn to work collaboratively with new people, attain new skills and perform well in unfamiliar settings. The experience they gained was memorable and the connections that they made were rewarding.

Taking the lead to nurture engaged learners and to promote caring community among our immigrant students and families were district staff William Wong, District Placement Administrator (DRPC), Don Fiddler, District Principal of Aboriginal Education, Jerry Wu, Manager of SWIS Program, Iona Whishaw, Principal of David Thompson, Irfan Sheihk, Principal of Point Grey and Rickardo Lopez, Vice Principal of Lord Byng were present at the event to cheer and applaud for our newcomer students and parents for their impressive performances and outstanding effort to bring the community together.

Also attending the event to welcome the school community was Susan Mele, Acting Recreation Supervisor of Kerrisdale Community Centre, Robert Lockart, President and the Board Members of the Kerrisdale Community Centre Society as well as the representatives from SUCCESS, MOSAIC, Vancouver Public Library, Kitsilano Neighborhood House and Kerrisdale Community & Policing Association.  Their warm reception and recognition made all 430 participants feel special, included and welcomed - especially the newcomers who choose this land to be their new homes.

This year, the Lunar New Year Fest continued to receive wide community and media support. Organizers say special thanks go to the Killarney Community Centre, the Killarney Community Centre Society, the Dunbar Community Centre and the Dunbar Height Baptist Church for lending practice space for free to our students and parents. As well, we thank VSB Continuing Education, Kins Farm Markets, Dairy Queen, McDonalds, BCAA, Safeway (Arbutus), Sing Tao Daily, Starbucks, KenLow Shaolin Kungfu Institute, Domino Pizza, Fisch Farms Vancouver, Gem Chocolate and other sponsors for their generous gift donations to make the Lucky Draws fun and exciting. 

Click on the image below to check out our Flickr album for more photos.

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