Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 20, 2006
Immigrant youth travel ESL bridge
St. Joseph High School's English as a Second language program opens doors for students
By BILL GLEN
Gallivan said the youth who finished the first year learned a number of life skills for living in their new homeland.
"They learned to budget and how to live in an apartment," she said. "They learned some social and cultural norms that they were not aware of."
After two years in the ESL program, Jafari is now looking forward to graduating with a high school diploma and life as an engineer or a cabinetmaker.
"Since I came to Edmonton, it's been awesome," he said. "I have my goals. I know what I am doing. I have changed my life."
Lynn Smarsh says Jafari's story is similar to many of the ESL students who come from Mexico, Africa and Asia, for example.
And his self-confidence and outlook to a positive future can be attributable to Project Youth.
"Ghadir's experience is the same as many others here. He came looking for a new life," said Smarsh, ESL department head at St. Joe's.
"Through the project, Ghadir now has support networks. He sees education in a different light and as a pathway to follow for his goals in life. They all work very hard on making their journey to reach their goal at the end."
Project Youth teaches resume building, job interviewing skills and how to look for career opportunities.
Gallivan says the project is a combination of education and employment readiness.
The size of the group is kept small because of its individualized nature to help the students before they become too old for high school and move onto NorQuest College, for example.
"After the second year, all 12 of the students found summer jobs," Gallivan said. "That was a positive outcome. Their confidence and network of relationships has helped to provide the support they need."
The government has been keen to support the project because of the employment readiness, she said. Project Youth helps the students enter part-time employment now, while looking at a future career path.
"It's like a transition program."
Gallivan would like to make the project more sustainable with other funding sources besides the government.
"These young people are so resilient with hope for their future. They have a positive attitude," she said.
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