Improving English helped Francesc develop confidence and build relationships in the community. Francesc, aged 45, arrived in Canada a year and a half ago with a goal to advance his English and discover what the country had to offer. Coming to Kelowna was an easy decision for him. He heard about the city from various tourists who had visited his hometown in Spain.
Once he settled in Kelowna, he searched for a place that fit with his desire to strengthen his English. After visiting the local University and College, he was referred to Project Literacy Kelowna Society. Francesc quickly enrolled in the weekly conversation class which took place every Monday afternoon. In this program, students practice English in an interactive setting by learning about Canadian culture as well as getting to know other learners and tutors.
After several weeks of the Monday classes, Francesc decided to increase the intensity of his English training by taking on more instruction. Currently, Francesc meets with a tutor twice a week in addition to the weekly conversation class. Francesc is preparing for his International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam – a test that assesses the language abilities for those seeking to study or work in English-speaking countries.
Improving his English has been a great accomplishment for Francesc. He came to Canada knowing a bit of English, but said it was still very difficult to communicate on a daily basis, even for simple things such as ordering a cup of coffee. He described how lonely it was for him to struggle with speaking, reading and writing English in Canada. He remembers feeling isolated and unable to contribute his skills to the community. He says he can now communicate well with the people in Canada and he feels more engaged with Canada as a whole because of his experience with Project Literacy.
“Project Literacy helped me to feel more connected and confident. The people who work and volunteer at Project Literacy are passionate and respectful. They are a reminder that nice people exist in the world. I am more comfortable in Canada because of this organization and my experience with them has improved the quality of my life.”
When asked about his plans, Francesc says he would like to travel to Asia to learn more about his specialization, Shiatsu massage therapy and revisit Spain to visit family. However, he then plans to return to Canada to make this place his home.
“The organization is encouraging and it makes you feel like you are not alone. Being new to a country, you sometimes feel like you are the only one experiencing the situation. Project Literacy is a community within a community, bringing people together. I do believe because of Project Literacy I am able to imagine Canada as a good choice to call home.”
Project Literacy Kelowna Society depends on volunteers to provide its services to more than 400 learners a year, just like Francesc. The organization is an excellent resource for people in the community for whom English is a second language. When students come to Project Literacy, they receive much more than simply the ability to communicate; they also receive confidence, support, and most importantly, the feeling of belonging to a community.