More than 200 English language students attended the first annual Celebration of Learning awards ceremony on June 19 at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.
The adult students are part of the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) and Access2English programs at Abbotsford Community Services (ACS).
The LINC program provides free English classes as well as Canadian citizenship, history and employment information.
The Access2English program matches adult learners in the community with volunteer tutors who teach literacy, computer skills and more.
“We started this event because we wanted to recognize how hard our students have worked to learn an unfamiliar and complicated language,” said Paula Mannington, manager of English Language Services.
More than 100 students received certificates for progressing to the next level in the Canadian Language Benchmarks system.
Sixty-four students were also recognized for their excellent attendance and commitment to learning. One student in particular hadn’t missed a day of class in the past two years.
Other honourees included instructor Rosanna Chisholm, who has been with the LINC program for 25 years, and Maria Bos-Chan, who has been an integral part of training tutors for the Access2English program.
The Celebration of Learning event featured a dessert reception, photo booth, prize draws, and performances from students.
“It was a wonderful evening which symbolized hope, learning, confidence and friendships in a new world summated with a rendition of What a Wonderful World by the staff,” said Manpreet Grewal, director of Multicultural and Immigrant Integration Services.
Mannington said their programs are much more than an ESL class.
“It’s a small community where people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds become friends who support and encourage one another,” said.
“The classes help foster a sense of belonging and encourage our students to become valuable members of our community.”
ACS has been offering adult English classes to newcomers for over 25 years.
In addition to language classes, the ACS Multicultural and Immigrant Integration Services department connects newcomers to the wider community in a variety of ways.
Settlement workers give guidance to adults and help integrate immigrant and refugee children into schools. There are also specialized employment services to help skilled immigrants find relevant work in the local workforce.
Visit AbbotsfordCommunityServices.com/multicultural for more information.