More than 80 international students from Langley’s New Directions English Language School celebrated graduation at Fort Langley’s Theatre In the Country on Thursday, Nov. 24. These adult students from different parts of the world shared their struggles in their journeys to learn a new language.
Lila, a graduating student, addressed her teachers and talked about the relationships she built during her five years at the school. She also thanked her husband for standing by her goals.
Seguera now hopes to return to her profession of teaching one day.
Others, too, reflected on how difficult it was to feel at home in Canada before they could speak English. Many struggled at their workplaces, supermarkets or with doctor appointments.
Marina Villalobos, who was born and raised in a small town in Mexico, reflected on her journey and said, “I celebrated my four-year anniversary in Canada with permanent resident status, my first driver’s licence, a little house and new projects where I try to help other immigrants to have an easier start. I truly believe we are all here today because of the decisions we have made along the way, the people who have supported them, the sacrifices we agreed to take on and the determination to not give up on our dreams.”
“I would have never thought back then that I would be here today, sharing my story in English and representing students from all over the world in this country that I now call home,” she continued.
The morning and evening graduation celebrations honoured the achievements of the students through felicitation ceremonies, cultural events, speeches, and more. The ceremonies kicked off with the singing of ‘Reach for the Light’ followed by stage performances by current and graduating students. Members of the Langley Chinese Arts and Cultural Association then played Erhu – a traditional instrument – in collaboration with a vocalist. Instructor Severn, then performed Mongolia’s traditional Dance.
Also, World Taekwondo students demonstrated martial arts skills, leaving the audience in awe.
Current student Maria danced to Latin tunes. Later the students danced to Farsi melodies and Bulgarian songs.
Finally, a student elegantly waltzed across the stage with her husband, demonstrating a ballroom dance, complete with formal attire.
Margaret Ann, New Directions’ community events coordinator, emceed the event. In addition to staff and students, Anastasia Chyz-Le Sage, director of the settlement network at Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), attended the event and delivered a welcome speech commending Yvonne Hopp, school’s president.
Hopp congratulated the graduating students and talked about the “client-centred approach,” the school has incorporated into its teaching policies. “The approach is key to the school’s success,” she commented.
She also talked about services like the open learning centre, which accommodated individual work schedules and childcare responsibilities during the pandemic.
John Aldag, MP Cloverdale and Langley City, sent his greetings from Ottawa through a pre-recorded video.
Additionally, constable Curt Hall- liaison officer of the Langley RCMP, Christine McCracken – executive director of the encompass support services society, Ines Montoya of Work BC, Anthony Kupferschmidt – executive director of Langley Seniors Centre, and Leanne Cassap of Rotary congratulated the graduates Student Certificates were awarded to graduates and those moving to high-level courses.
In her concluding remarks, Hopp appreciated IRCC for standing by New Directions and providing the funding to enable the clients to thrive and attain their goals.
She spoke about the trauma faced by clients who have arrived from countries amid war and upheaval.
“Each of [the student] have my respect and gratitude for being part of building our community. I know how hard it is to come to school to learn a new language after working all day or having many responsibilities which compete for time. You all deserve recognition,” Hopp added.
The event concluded with a multicultural potluck at New Directions.
“The graduates and guests enjoyed the festivities culminated in a communal meal,” Hopp concluded.
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