Earlier this month 145 of the community’s newest members were celebrated at Douglas Park in Langley City.
Students from New Directions school, a government funded service provider for newcomers that teaches adults English and other settlement skills, walked across the stage on Aug. 10 to the applause of community partners, elected officials and general park-goers.
“Anyone walking by would have noticed a multi-cultural audience eagerly waiting for their turn to walk across the stage to receive their reward for months of hard work of studying English,” said Margaret Ann, community events coordinator with the school.
Ann opened the day’s ceremony at the inaugural, Grad in the Park event before teachers awarded students with progression certificates, indicating they had passed another LINC level (language instruction for newcomers to Canada).
Also in attendance was White Rock Jazz musician, Lovarra, who belted out the tune of her award-winning song, Stronger Than You Know, speaking to the challenges which the students have overcome, Ann recalled.
Several students had prepared speeches about the topics of Indigenous history and community amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and bravely presented them to the audience.
Paerhati Maierheba, a LINC 4 student from the Uyghur Autonomous Region in western China, addressed the crowd:
“My experience learning English during the pandemic was completely different for me. It was my first experience to stay at home and do all the work with the Internet. After I got used to it, it helped me learn some computer skills and also improved my English writing and listening skills too. It became totally fine for me. During online learning, teachers helped us with everything and explained all the time. For this, I will always be grateful to my teachers at my school. I appreciate all of your hard work. Online learning and in-person learning have their own advantages but I missed the interaction with classmates and teachers so I prefer to be in the classroom. Hope we come back school soon!”
Local leaders also spoke to the studentbody, including City councillors Teri James, Gayle Martin, Paul Albrecht and Rosemary Wallace, as well as Township of Langley Coun. Kim Richter.
Other community partners, Sarwan Randhawa with the Fraser Valley Regional Library, Christine McCracken executive director at Encompass Support Service Society, Robert Gabriel with Immigrant Services Society of BC, and Ines Montoya with WorkBC, also welcomed the students, applauded them for their accomplishment and encouraged them to continue in their language studies.
Students and guests also heard from Langley School District cultural speaker Cecelia Reekie, a member of the Haisla First Nation, who shared her story and spoke about topic of Indigenous issues and the path toward reconciliation.
All the grads and guests celebrated the growing diversity in Langley.