The Power of Learning – Together!

It took a simple conversation between neighbours to create a new program at Sunnydale Community Centre – one that is bringing the community a little bit closer.

CONNECTING THROUGH LANGUAGE – Nazmi and Marwa have enjoyed sharing their love of the Arabic language with their neighbours at Sunnydale Community Centre.

Since last summer, a group of non-Arabic speaking community members have been taking the time to learn Arabic. The best part? It’s being taught by their neighbours.

The inspiration for the classes started during an outdoor meeting of a peer support group. Many of the women in the community speak Arabic, and were chatting with one another.

“Someone said that they liked the sound of the language, and would like to learn it,” said Nazmi Elkawash, a Neighbourhood Program Leader at House of Friendship. “We all became super excited about the idea.”

The classes have been limited in size because of COVID-19 restrictions, with only so many people permitted in the community centre at one time. With the more recent stay-at-home order, the class has shifted to an online format. But either way, classes have been a success.

“We’ve started pretty simple,” said Marwa Eid, a fellow Neighbourhood Program Leader. “Letters, words and phrases, some sentences that can be easily understood – basic conversation.”

For Beth Metzger, the classes have been a great gift. Beth is part of a church that is working on sponsoring a Syrian family currently living in Jordan.

“I thought it would be nice to be able to say a few phrases to make people feel welcome,” said Beth. “I’ve been learning a lot – it’s so very different from English.”

For Nazmi and Marwa, being able to share their language with others has been a blessing.

“It’s a chance for me to give back to my community,” said Marwa. “I have lived here for five years, and I used to get lots of help and support from the community centre. It feels so nice to give back in a way that builds connections between neighbours.”

Posted on: April 9th, 2021

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