The Spryfield Community Church was filled with much conversation and laughter during the first weekly English Café.
In café style, The Salvation Army is bringing peer leaders, generous volunteers and those who have recently immigrated to Nova Scotia together to learn more English and connect with one another. A theme will guide each week as participants work towards building their vocabularies through activities, games and many discussions in both large and small groups.
“We want to welcome people here to build community with one another and at the same time, learn English, which is necessary for newcomers as they transition to our province and find good jobs,” says Julie MacDonald, coordinator of Atlantic Refugee and Immigration Services (ARIS) that runs out of The Salvation Army Spryfield location in Halifax.
Using pictures of car parts, volunteers Jeremy and Pamela talk with Talal, a Syrian mechanic to help him learn the English names. “We’re benefitting from spending time with him as much as he is from us; it’s a rich cultural experience as we learn from one another.”
Katia is from Russia. She has lived here for one year and has experienced significant transition. She said that meeting new friends, spending time at libraries and taking part in community activities such as this has made her transition easier. She says, “I miss my friends and family in Russia a lot, but my husband’s Nova Scotian family has really embraced me and I love living close to the ocean.”
Renata and Luana are from Brazil. Renata has been here for four months while Luana has been here for three years. They recently participated in the YMCA’s CONVO program where the focus is to create conversation and build relationships with one another. Renata's English was very limited when she first arrived, but she embarked on a scholarship to learn more English.
The English Café takes place on Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm and will continue to meet over the summer welcoming newcomers to Nova Scotia – everyone is welcome.
For more information, contact the Spryfield Community Church & Family Resource Centre at 902-477-5393.