A prominent step to help the immigrant students at school.
A program has been created at local school boards that are aimed at making the first day of school a bit easier for the new students form other countries.
The Newcomer Orientation Week (NOW) is a three and half days of activities that are offered at various Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board high schools for the immigrants beginning secondary school.
The program helps the students to prepare for school and also provides them opportunity to make some friends. An important feature of NOW is the role of the peer leaders-fellow students who were newcomers a year before and are able to speak a number of languages. Peel leader Kirti Tiwari said that he understands the feelings of the new students as he was one of them, adding that even she was scared and nervous initially.
She arrived in Canada a couple of years ago form India and was afraid of litrally everything at the middle school. Now as a peer leader at Bramalea Secondary School, she is helping ease the nervousness and fear of others experiencing similar situation.
Matthew Jacob came to Canada from India with his family, about two months ago. The 14-year old said that it is very different form the schools in India. Jacob said that he wanted to know a little more about the school and classes to get himself ready for the school.
He is one of the 20 newcomer taking part in the NOW program of the school. A teacher Natalie Gnys said that now it is the job of 10 peer leader, two teachers and two settlement workers in the program to make these students more comfortable in the school. The settlement workers Jyot Gurdarshan and Kalpana Karkee explained that the students meet others in similar positions and know that they are not alone and this is more valuable then any other thing you might do to make them feel comfortable.
Last year, the program was piloted provincially in eight schools, including one in Mississauga, said the Multicultural Settlement and Education Partnership (MSEP) facilitator Louise Clayton. She said that the program is really collaboration with settlement workers and teachers as well as peer leaders to lead the program to help the newcomers.
Clayton noted that it is the peer leaders who are really the ones responsible to lead the program with the support of teachers and settlement workers.