Newcomers are saddened that they're losing the program that's helped connect them to Canada.
The Newcomer Youth Connection program, a free program offered by the Lower Mainland Purpose Society, has been helping new immigrant youth to adjust to their new surroundings in Canada. The program has helped youth aged 15 to 24 deal with issues such as language barriers, isolation, cultural adjustments and homesickness.
Program coordinator Eman Elmasri said the program originally received one year's funding, but it was extended and lasted almost three years. During that time, it served more than 290 clients from 45 different countries.
The final class graduated from the Newcomer Youth Connection Program on Aug. 30, but many students continue to drop by the Burnaby-based centre. Having lost its provincial funding, the program will cease operations at the end of September.
Sam Allami, a 16-year old Burnaby resident, said he's learned English and met a lot of friends through the program. A native of Iraq, he's "sad and worried" to see the program come to an end.
"I learned about English, how to talk with people, how to find jobs, how to communicate with people," said 17-year-old Sorawit (Ken) Intaphan, who immigrated to Canada from Thailand. "It was very helpful for me. Before I came to this program my English wasn't very good. I feel my English has improved very well."
Almas Romano, a 20-yearold immigrant from South Sudan, credits the program for helping him to find a job detailing cars.
"I feel so sad. I am going to miss everybody in this school," he said. "I wish it could continue."
New Westminster resident Vanessa Chen aid the program helped her learn how o talk to people, and to read and write after she moved to Canada from Taiwan.
Elmasri credits the program's success to the fact that it's been offered Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students attended classes from Monday to Thursday and went on educational and recreational field trips on Fridays, field trips that helped them develop lifeskills and learn about Canadian way of life, such as taking transit,
"This program helped me a lot," said Zaid Taher, who emigrated from Iraq seven months ago. "When I came to Canada I don't know anyone. This program opened my eyes about Canada."
Samir Shayan, a 20-year-old New Westminster resident from Afghanistan, said the program has been amazing and helped him improve his English and make friends.
According to Elmasri, outreach workers have been working with students to help them get into other English language programs. Because of its unique structure that combines classroom work and fieldtrips, the program has attracted immigrant youth from around the Lower Mainland.
The program targeted people who have lived in Canada for less than five years. Although it offered a three-month term, some students returned for more than one term to continue their learning.
"This program is really awesome," Shayan said. "This program really helps newcomers like me."