Imagine your first day of high school in a new country, with a new language and a new locker system. It’s always scary being the new kid. But atGreenwoodSecondary school40 students from 27 different home countries participated in the Newcomer Orientation Week Program (NOW), designed to give them a bit of an advantage in those critical first days.
NOW is an innovative program funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), implemented by settlement agencies and delivered by school boards. Designed to help students achieve their full potential, NOW reaches new students through the help of peer leaders. For two weeks during the summer Alumni of the program volunteer to mentor the newest of newcomer youth. During Newcomer orientation week, peer leaders connect with incoming students, sharing stories about the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.
“The program is really good for the newcomers to help them learn about stuff” said Sampad Dey, peer leader. “We show them how to use their lockers, how to get to classes, how to get the password for the internet. I think it will be easy for them to start school. From the first or second day of class they will be ok. “
Teachers and settlement workers work collaboratively with peer leaders as the program is delivered, and local school boards assist by providing space in the school, helping to recruit peer leaders and promoting the program to students and parents. With 80% of its student body having been inCanadafor less than 2 years,GreenwoodSecondary Schoolis an excellentTorontolocation to hold this important mentorship program.
Greenwoodschool is not the only school, however, to support this program. This year there are 92 schools acrossOntariowhich will participate in NOW. This will involve over 400 peer leaders and assist as many as 2,100 newcomer students.
“The program will help me to have more confidence with myself. It helps me to communicate. I learn about the rules and regulations of the school and the country” said Ilysh Entorum, student participant.