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Helping hand for foreign students

Starting school is challenging for most students and their parents. Even more so when the school is in a new country.

A pair of upcoming free workshops offer immigrant high-school students and their parents a friendly introduction to academic life in York Region.

Attendees at the Welcome to Canada Workshop for Newcomer Youth in York Region can receive the sort of information already familiar to returning high-school students. Topics include basic school policies, how to manage change and transition and accessing sports programs and part-time employment opportunities.

“This is actually a first of its kind for York Region,” said Kim Miranda, program assistant with the Education Partnership.

The Dufferin Clark Community Centre hosts the first of these innovative workshops, put on by the Settlement and Education Partnership in York Region, Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A workshop for new Catholic students is scheduled for Sept. 15, also at Dufferin Clark Community Centre from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The two school boards requested the separate workshops.

Organizers expect a large turnout for both workshops, including more than 150 for the public-school workshop on the 8th, Miranda said.

“It is important that we are able to assist, in any way possible, new students who are arriving in our schools,” said José Fernandes, administrator of the public board’s race relations/community and cultural services department. “A good beginning sets the path for them to do well in school.”

Though the focus is on helping students get acquainted with the education system, parents haven’t been left out. The workshops also feature seminars on how parents can best help their children navigate York Region’s high schools.

“I think the parents’ forum is very important,” Fernandes said. “Parents (should) know what we expect in terms of our partnership with parents.”

Parts of both workshops will be conducted in the first languages of attending students and parents to help them feel more comfortable and aid the flow of information.

“It will be easier for them to gather information on how to go about your way of life in Canada,” Miranda said. “If they’ve met somebody who’s already been there, and can really guide (them), it will be easier for them to know their way around.”

The Education Partnership is a joint venture of Catholic Community Services of York Region, the York Catholic and York Region district school boards, and is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Vaughan Today 
Friday, September 7, 2007 
Page: 8
Byline: Philip Alves