After studying English at a Canadian ESL school for some months in Toronto, I started to search for activities that would help improve my skills and keep me in touch with other people. Fortunately, my online research directed me to WoodGreen Community Services, the Community Connections Program, and their English Conversation Circles.
Knowing more details about the non-profit organization is very important before enjoy its services. Therefore, I carefully read about WoodGreen’s history and values. WoodGreen offers many activities for immigrants and newcomers such as, trainings, volunteer activism, and conversation circles. At that moment, I chose the English Conversation Circles that are led by native English speaking volunteers. Let’s go!
English Conversation Circles occur at different libraries almost every day. I was able to visit many different neighborhoods because of this. Nowadays, people are discovering unknown places in several countries through Pokemon Go. I used the circles to discover. Danforth/Coxwell, Gerrard/Ashdale, St. James Town and Pape and Danforth are just some of the libraries that I knew and used to capture… many new friends there.
Walking around the city, I could see that life quality is an attractive feature of Toronto. Its beautiful green areas in parks is an essential ingredient for that. When Teresa Tao, one of the Community Connection’s coordinators, told me about volunteer positions at Eglinton Garden, I applied immediately. WoodGreen, in collaboration with Toronto Green Community, was offering the Workbees program with position for Interactive Garden Volunteering and ECO Education. It looked perfect: work, nature, and education. Let’s go, again!
There are many benefits when you work as a volunteer. First of all, you improve your English, meet new people, and increase your network. Furthermore, you can learn a new role, discover new abilities, and practice solidarity and reciprocity. Finally, volunteering is a way to add Canadian experience in your background, preparing you for the professional market.
After 4 sessions, I can say I am volunteer in Canada!
Even though I think I won’t be a gardener, I liked to plant the seeds, harvest fresh vegetables, clean the planting beds, remove weeds, prepare the compost, and irrigate the garden. In the summer, the rain was a good experience, as well.
All production is organized by volunteers who take notes about weights and package it for donation. It’s a great social opportunity!
These organizations have helped me and motivated me to help the community and, despite a big challenge in the job market, I hope to keep learning and helping people through it.
Guest Blogger, Alexandre Belloni Alves, Professional computer developer and amateur gardener.