They have helped me develop conversational skills to communicate and be more familiar with people in Canada. They have helped me understand the youth of Canada."
- Newcomer Youth
At Big Brothers Big Sister of Ottawa, a pilot program “The Conversation Club” gives newcomer youth the opportunity to take part in a unique mentoring program.
The youth aged between 12-18 years old are mentored by volunteers between the ages of 16-24 who have an interest in helping a younger newcomer youth to Canada. With a goal of social integration, they meet weekly in a group setting, to build connections with the youth, share their immigration experiences, practice English conversation and presentation skills, receive homework help and learn about Canada.
Conversation Club builds a sense of belonging among the youth and also promotes cross-cultural understanding and respect for differences as foundational elements. The program is informal and provides a safe atmosphere that is engaging to youth and enables them to practice their English conversation skills and build connections with other youth. On a weekly basis the youth and their volunteers share information about their home countries, their celebrations and memories, their challenges and learn about working together to build an inclusive and respectful community in Canada.
Conversation Club encourages youth to have a voice, develop strategies that aim to involve all youth, allow long-term involvement for youth,emphasizes community involvement and collaboration and encourages the youth to take responsibility and participate in civic initiatives and activities.
Through partnership with schools and community organizations in Ottawa, Conversation Club is able to provide program space, referrals of newcomer youth and on-site support for the weekly program sessions.