Confederation College Program Connects Youth and Seniors

English Language Students from Confederation College and Senior Volunteers from the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre Pose During a Trip to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
English Language Students from Confederation College and Senior Volunteers from the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre Pose During a Trip to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

English Language Students from Confederation College and Senior Volunteers from the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre Pose During a Trip to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
English Language Students from Confederation College and Senior Volunteers from the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre Pose During a Trip to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

THUNDER BAY – Friday, August 15th saw an exciting end to a unique summer for those learning the English language at Confederation College.  23 international students from across the College’s English language courses, had the opportunity to celebrate the completion of their hard work with a special trip to Silver Islet and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

They shared this experience with five senior volunteers from the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre who were part of a new initiative that took the students’ language learning to a new level.  Every two weeks, students would take a trip to the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre to practice their conversational English skills with seniors in the River Street Café.  Learning from each other’s backgrounds and life stories, both students and seniors also expanded their knowledge of the various cultures involved, and the students enjoyed learning about the history of Thunder Bay and surrounding region.

The special trip to wrap up the students’ English language studies was the idea of Lloyd Munshaw, one of the senior participants who wanted to give the students a memorable, culminating experience by exposing them to the beautiful scenery, geomorphology and cultural cultural history of the area.

With only good things to say overall, many students commented on the importance of these enrichment activities to the development of their oral language skills and to their integration into the Thunder Bay community. When asked what their favourite part of their Thunder Bay experience has been to date, most students cited nature and the friendly people who live here, with one commenting that they love that “you can open the door for five people and hear seven thank you’s.”

“The new partnership with the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre is a real win-win,” said Miriam Wall, Director of International Education for Confederation College. “It takes our students beyond the college campus to meet new people and learn about life in Thunder Bay.  It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions and practice their English skills, while adding a new and meaningful activity for the participating senior volunteers.”

“What a treat it has been to work with the international students who are in Thunder Bay,” said says Nancy Angus, Community Program Developer-Older Adults.  “Many of the volunteers who chatted with students in the River Street Café were in their 80’s or 90’s.  They told me they felt invigorated by the chance to get to know these young people.  The visits were loud and boisterous and the laughter made everyone, no matter their age, feel better.”

The trip was made possible with the support of Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), Ministry of Northern Development and Mines Geologist, Mark Smyk, and a geology student from Lakehead University. Smyk, also the Thunder Bay Branch Chair of CIM, said that “CIM was pleased to be able to support this field trip in promoting networking, professional development and fraternity with both these international students and the general public. CIM always welcomes the opportunity to share information about local geology and our mining heritage.”

The partnership between Confederation College and the City of Thunder Bay Recreation & Culture Division Older Adult Unit was a great success and plans are underway to continue building this relationship in the future.  If you are interested in learning more about the English Language courses at Confederation College, please visit www.confederationc.on.ca/esl or www.confederationc.on.ca/eap.  Seniors interested in being part of future conversation groups should contact Nancy Angus at the City of Thunder Bay at 684-2403 or nangus@thunderbay.ca.