Healthy People, Strong Communities: Found in Translation.

A recent newcomer to Canada and Winnipeg, Yi Zhong is motivated to improve her English so she can integrate into her new home and continue with her career.

She volunteers at the Immigrant Centre of Manitoba – a United Way agency partner – as an EAL (English as an Additional Language) practice partner for other newcomer adults.

She also contributes regularly to the centre’s website. In her own words, here’s how volunteering at the Immigrant Centre plays an important role in Yi’s life.

Yi Zhong

Yi Zhong volunteers as a practice partner for fellow newcomers learning English.

“We all know Canada is a country built by immigrants, and we all are part of it. How we can merge in actually depends on our English.

Me myself are from China, we study English as early as we can, but as a course only, like geography. Most of us don’t use any English in our daily life.

So, the frustration and challenges must you imagine when I landed here. There are two options in front of people like me, one is to practice English as often as I can with lots of mistakes and awkwardness, one is to hide in mother tongue as long as possible. I doubt it is a very satisfactory situation.

So, in order to develop an environment as nice as we imagined before immigration, we MUST embrace it in English!

I know it is so hard to learn a different language in our 30s or even 40s, but we are not alone. There are so many people just like us, and so many people want to help us.

There are free English as Additional Language (EAL) classes at the Immigrant Centre. And there is always someone you can talk to in English. I talk to the teachers from my son’s daycare every day, and I always find something to talk about with my janitor.

Lately, I volunteered as a one-to one tutor for EAL. The experience helps me to realize that, once you open your mouth and start talking, you are making progress.

Besides, being a volunteer and chatting with friends from all over the world seems like the Thousand and One Nights, right! So, stop hesitation!

Find someone and talk, get to know the world and make progress together. Is not that what we go for? Moving on our lives with progress in this beautiful country.”