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Building a Community Connection

A story about how the Cooperative Education Goal Setting assignment helped a student to become a part of the Guelph community while building his communication skills.

After only being in Canada for a couple years and moving from Winnipeg to Guelph, this student had a job with Linamar that he enjoyed. It was there that he learned about the opportunity to join the SWAF program to earn his Ontario Secondary School Diploma and to continue learning and exploring career paths. 

As he was completing his final credits he realized that he wanted more. While the student experienced immediate success with academic English, he self-identified a need to improve his conversational English skills. It became clear that the Goal Setting assignment within his Cooperative Education course would be the perfect way to move forward. The student could learn about and become a part of the Guelph community while achieving his goal of practicing and improving his English speaking skills which would benefit him both personally and professionally. 

The SWAF teachers guided him in building a list of options and activities that he could independently investigate in an effort to achieve his goal. These activities included researching the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition and Guelph Wellington Immigrant Services, as well as visiting the local farmers market and his local branch of the Guelph Public Library. 

Over a series of months, the student participated in community events and services. He expressed that the most meaningful action was registering for the One-on-One Conversation Program offered by Guelph Wellington Immigrant Services. The student met with a volunteer once a week and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to practice the speaking and listening skills of everyday English. 

He said,

Without the Goal Setting assignment I would not have become a part of the Conversation Program, I wouldn’t have learned about these programs and different events in the community, and I wouldn’t have pushed myself to move forward. I see English has a hard skill, not a soft skill – it’s how you communicate with people, express different ideas, and learn about the world.

Upon graduation his desire for continuous learning was evident and he put his increased confidence and English skills immediately to use by taking a Linamar course that directly related to his job.  

The SWAF teachers were pleased to see that the student, who was new to our community, was successful extending his academic learning through experiential learning but also incorporated community involvement.