On these hot sizzling August afternoons, what else would you rather be doing than brushing up on Canadian office culture and practicing your language skills? Well, because of the insight of Program Coordinator, Teresa Tao, that’s exactly where three keen volunteers and on average a dozen of even keener newcomers spent the first two weeks in August.
In an air-conditioned room at 815 Danforth, on average 10—12 newcomers and three volunteers braved the heat to tackle this program. We had a wide range of experience with some people having been only in the country 2 weeks to those who had been here for several years and wanting a refresher. We were delighted to meet participants from China, Ecuador, Iran, Japan, Russian, Spain and Venezuela. They were a lively group, with lots of questions and even more energy for the role playing and practice sessions.
This Program was meant to fill the gap between July programs and the new fall season. It was designed to keep momentum going for some and get a head start for others. And the sessions were innovative: they were held in a different building, on weekday afternoons, and with a program that was altered to better fit the audience.
The volunteers: Barbara, Sharon, and Suzanne had put the agenda together with the help of Teresa and the knowledge of past sessions as well as their own experience. Barbara has both project management and ESL experience; Sharon a financial background and solid planning skills; and Suzanne a veteran of two other Office Dynamics programs and a career in management. Each brought their own ideas and experiences and the program was shaped to present ideas on how to move into to Canadian business culture smoothly—from introductions, to phone and email etiquette, interview skills, and ultimately to planning a meeting in an office for your community event—-we tackled it! At the end of each session, participants were asked about their needs and interest in the next and volunteers adjusted to suit. Sessions were designed to maximize English language practice and acclimatize newcomers to Toronto’s working world. We came, we met, we learned, and we laughed. Overall, it was a fantastic way to spend afternoons in August. Thanks for your leadership, Teresa! Thanks for the newcomers for their energy and enthusiasm!
Guest Blogger, Suzanne Kiraly, Volunteer and Traveler, Former Executive VP