On October 30, faculty and students from the English as a Second Language (ESL) department invited guests to an event that both kicked off English as an Additional Language (EAL) Awareness week and celebrated Canada 150+.
Thanks to a generous initiative from TRU’s Canada 150+ Task Force, ESL students were invited to compete for $2,700 to put toward an experience that seeks to answer: “What does Canada mean from an intercultural or Indigenous perspective?” Students were asked to submit a proposal to explain how they would spend the funds in pursuit of answering that question, taking into consideration ways Canadians and visitors to Canada celebrate diversity, encourage inclusion, or integrate reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
The event brought together English Language Learner (ELL) service providers, ESL students, faculty from within the ESL department and the School of Education, and staff from the Chaplaincy office. After the opening comments, Joe Dobson spoke as both President of BC TEAL (Teaching English as an Additional Language) and an ESL senior lecturer. Next, the panel of adjudicators, a cross-section of ELL service providers were introduced: Brian Bouthillier (lecturer, ESL), Sandy Defieux (Maple Leaf Schools), Lori De Frias (International Training Centre, TRU World), and Carol Rees (Associate Professor, School of Education).
Three proposals, two individual and one group, were presented, with food, games, and prizes between presentations while the adjudicators completed their scorecards. After consultation, the judges declared a group of students from Sessional Lecturer Roy Langdon’s ESAL 0580 class the winners, and they were awarded the $2700 to fulfill their proposal of a shared trip to Vancouver to explore and share stories from a variety of cultures about what Canada means from an international, immigrant, and Indigenous perspective. Congratulations to the award recipients: Parneet Sidhu, Manpreet Singh Manes, Divya Agnidhar Naidu Koti, Mansi Hemantkumar Joshi, Fana Mebrahtu, Noel Salinas Guevara, and Xingwen Ju. Congratulations also to the other students who presented, Akash Chowdhury and Pablo Contreras.
The real highlight of the event was the enthusiasm shown by staff, students and faculty. Having the opportunity to share a presentation publicly is a great opportunity for all students but particularly for those whose first language is not English. We hope that this may even become a more permanent event for future EAL Awareness Weeks! Thank you to Lucille Gnanasihamany and the Canada 150+ Task Force and EDSW Dean Airini for their innovation in creating this award and the encouragement for us to pursue it.