Susy Glass of the Ralph Thornton Centre sent us this report by volunteer, Jenn S.
I had the pleasure of volunteering in the Ralph Thornton Centre’s Newcomer Chinese mentorship program over several months in 2012 and 2013. My experience with the Centre and the program itself were both positive and rewarding. Since my time at the RTC, I have suggested the program to a number of friends who were looking for suitable volunteer positions. Being paired with a child, or in my case two children, who are navigating new culture and language was mutually beneficial as we got to learn from one another.
Specifically, I worked with 6 and 7 year old ‘best friends’ in language development, spelling, reading, and pronunciation. The program was fun yet challenging for the children, and I delighted in seeing the students make clear and marked gains in their spoken and written English.
The staff and volunteers at the RTC cared about the integrity of this long-standing program and it showed in their dedication and determination to find volunteers who were a ‘good fit’. I looked forward to my twice weekly afternoon commitment and spoke glowingly of my students (anonymously) to friends, proving my love for the program. My only disappointment? The fact that my life took me away from Toronto and forced me to say “so long.”
As a student of social service work, my experiences with marginalized communities, specifically an immigrant community with a marked language barrier, is helpful in my longer term pursuits to work with oppressed people of lesser privilege. I still think of the students and wonder how they’re progressing, with hope and belief that the structure, curriculum and individualized support they received from competent volunteers at the RTC is rooted deep and proving helpful long term. Perhaps one day I will be back at the centre to lend a hand and dip back into this incredible program.
The Mentor Program at the Ralph Thornton Centre is designed to help Chinese newcomer children who live in the neighbourhood of Queen Street East and Broadview to focus on language development and cultural adaptation. We offer customized one-on-one and small group tutoring to help students improve their English language skills. Enjoyable social and recreational activities are also used to teach a wide range of skills as well as introduce topics that help children adapt to and thrive in their new Canadian culture
The program takes place Monday through Thursday, 4:00 to 6:00 pm. We are currently looking for new volunteers, especially for Wednesday afternoons.
Susy Glass, Volunteer Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-392-6810 ext. 222.