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Building Bridges: Best Practices in Creating Effective Partnerships between Student Volunteers and their Communities to Support Newcomers in Small Communities

Building Bridges: Best Practices in Creating Effective Partnerships between Student Volunteers and their Communities to Support Newcomers in Small Communities



Building Bridges: Best Practices in Creating Effective Partnerships between Student Volunteers and their Communities to Support Newcomers in Small Communities. ...

Building Bridges: Best Practices in Creating Effective Partnerships between Student Volunteers and their Communities to Support Newcomers in Small Communities.

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  • Fundraising: General Tips Fundraising isn’t only about money, it’s also about people. People give to people. If more emphasis is placed on building relationships, the chance for a successful outcome is greater and that means a higher degree of support. Value your volunteers. By emphasizing relationships with people, your chances of a successful outcome are greater. Make sure that people feel involved in a meaningful, rewarding way. Delegate responsibilities, incorporate fun into your activities, and thank people for their hard work! Show appreciation to your existing donors. It’s much easier to keep an existing donor than to find a new one. When you have received a donation, your chances of receiving a subsequent one are much higher if you show and appropriate recognition. Thank your donors in person, by telephone, or in a letter. Let them know how successful your campaign was and how their donation made a difference. Doing so keeps donors engaged and makes them feel happy about giving you support. Levies and institutional waivers can contribute a significant amount of funds to support the annual sponsorship of refugees on campus. Donations (cash and in-kind) - Individuals may be willing to make cash contributions towards your sponsoring group, while businesses are often more prepared to donate their goods and services. Special Events - Fair Trade sales, Food Fairs, hosting special guest speakers, Bike A Thons, road races, multicultural expos, concerts, barbeques, gala dinners, garage sales – be creative! By reaching partnering with other organizations and group, you build on your strengths and can raise both money for and the profile of your sponsoring group, and have a lot of fun!
  • No Community is too Small to Sponsor Refugee Students The WUSC student group at College d’Alfred in eastern Ontario, with only about 100 students on campus, raises over $13,000 a year to provide an opportunity to a refugee student to pursue their education at their college. After securing on-campus partnerships to guarantee an annual tuition waiver and reduced text book prices for the sponsored student, the committee set off to increase community support for the sponsorship program. With the leadership of dedicated staff and faculty members, they developed an alumni and community outreach strategy which included a pro-active telephone and email fundraising campaign. Establishing and nurturing personal relationships with alumni and community members resulted in an increased awareness and funds to support the work of engaged students were doing to help others in need. For instance, alumni and community members were invited to attend holiday gatherings and other events to meet the sponsored student and volunteer students in their community, which proved very successful to maintain people’s engagement and interest in the sponsorship program. Their College President also provided them access to his own personal and business networks. As a result of building these strong relationships, the WUSC group raises thousands of dollars in donations from individuals, church groups and local businesses. All of these donors are recognized formally, and many continue to support the program every year. To illustrate the depth of the community’s engagement, two years ago, the WUSC committee was able to sponsor two refugee students, based on extreme need for refugees to resettle to Canada. This is no small feet and shows that no community is too small to make a big impact in the lives of others.
  • Emotional & Social Support: General Tips   For newcomers, emotional and social support upon arrival and throughout the resettlement process are key to facilitating the transition to a new community. Community members and volunteer students play an important role in facilitating this process.     Tap into local resources and expertise: Identify key people in the community to help assist with different circumstances that may arise throughout the resettlement process: Friends, family, ethnic and cultural groups, counsellors, therapist. Establishing links with people who have specific experiences or expertise is useful to provide the necessary support to the newcomer. Be mindful of culture shock: Suddenly immersing oneself into a different culture challenges one’s assumptions, values and perceived ways of doing things. Cultural adaptation takes time; and sponsoring groups should be sensitive to the effects of transition upon newcomers. Respecting privacy: Respect newcomers’ right to privacy regarding their history. If a newcomer chooses to disclose information to his/her sponsoring group after arrival, this should be left to his/her discretion. Some newcomers will be very open, while others may choose to remain more discreet. Seek support from professional counselors: People who have lived as refugees may encounter additional challenges adapting to Canada because of emotional and/or physical traumas experienced prior to resettlement. Counseling services can be accessed in a variety of ways both on- and off-campus. Let the student know that talking to a professional is a helpful way to work out problems, and that many Canadians seek counseling for a variety of problems.
  • Home Sweet Home The Algoma University student group in Sault Ste. Marie facilitated a successful “Home Stay” program whereby sponsored students are taken in by a local family upon arrival and provided with room and board for the academic year. These families contribute significantly by managing important logistical and financial hurdles in welcoming a sponsored student, and share the responsibilities with Ontario students during a very busy time when they are adjusting to their own work and course load on campus, This arrangement came together by forming a partnership with a local church. The church made a regular announcement at the end of each mass and also mentioned the initiative in the church newsletter, which sparked the interest of community members. Before long, the Algoma student group had a list of potential “Home Stay” families to choose from. This arrangement not only benefits the sponsored student and the student volunteers, but the community as a whole, as families become sensitized and engaged first-hand on refugee issues through their participation.
  • Training of Volunteers: General Tips   Plan volunteer training opportunities as part of the sponsorship process: Student groups are encouraged to identify key times during the year when volunteers need training and invite speakers to share their knowledge with the group. For instance, inviting a member of your local immigrant organization who can provide insight into the unique cultural aspects of the refugee’s country of origin before his/her arrival would be extremely valuable for volunteers. Identify key resource people in your community who have expertise and experience on matters relevant to refugee or newcomer issues - this may be someone who has travelled overseas, helped other newcomers resettle, etc.   Get in touch with your local immigrant, refugee and multi-cultural organizations. They may offer training courses that volunteers in your group can take part in. Get on the organization’s member mailing list, this ensures your committee receive up-to-date news on upcoming workshops, get-togethers, etc. These opportunities can be useful for both student volunteers and newcomers to take advantage of training workshops and expand community networks. Faculty members are experts in their fields – inquire who may be an appropriate and available resource for you on your campus. You can find people with a variety of expertise ranging from cultural diversity, refugee and immigration issues or even fundraising approaches. Take advantage of on-line training opportunities with WUSC or other like-minded organizations. Regional, provincial and national on-line workshops are made available by a variety of organizations.
  • Overcoming the Distance using On-Line Tools Lakehead University is situated along the shore of Lake Superior, in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Though quite distant from other universities and major urban centres, the WUSC Lakehead student group was able to acquire skills in refugee sponsoring by participating in one of WUSC’s distance learning web training workshop. The workshop explored sponsorship related topics, including the sponsorship cycle, cross-cultural communication, preparing an orientation, culture shock, running successful fundraising campaigns, training for treasurers, etc. This training session initiated interesting discussion amongst the group which they continued to foster throughout the year. The training also helped spark a renewed commitment to refugee sponsorship after a long period of inactivity. They also maintained relationships with resource staff who could assist, guide, advise and motivate them throughout the sponsorship process. These online workshops made it possible for Lakehead University students to overcome geographic limitations, access the knowledge and developed skilled required to provide strong social and emotional support to sponsored students.
  • Employment Support: General Tips   Newly arrived immigrants will have very limited “social capital” upon arrival and won’t have the same networks as members of your sponsoring group. Consider using your own networks to find potential employment opportunities for newcomers. Your volunteers can assist newcomers with finding employment in many other ways as well: · Connect newcomers with on-campus career services centres, off-campus employment agencies and employment-related websites. · Link with local businesses and employers who can provide internship opportunities for the sponsored student - a great way to gain “Canadian experience”. · Find people in your community who have larger networks and might be willing to help out. · Help your sponsored newcomer through the process of applying for a job: * creating a high quality resume and cover letter, submitting it and following it, etc. * Explain how to prepare for a job interview and what to expect from one. * Provide him/her with references.  
  • Finding Employment in Small Places With an undergraduate population of 1,200, employment opportunities at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie can seem rather limited. But this doesn’t stop the Algoma student group in assisting sponsored students to find work! In linking up with Employment Connections, a local employment agency, the Algoma student volunteers were able to connect with an on-site employment counselor and access job listings free of charge. The student group found employment for another sponsored student by teaming up with the university career centre. The student found employment at the university gym, which provided decent pay and a flexible work schedule fit for a student. The Algoma student group’s strength in reaching out to employment-related organizations has led directly to sponsored students finding work within their communities, which in turn engages more and more people with refugee and newcomer issues.
  • Raising Awareness: General Tips   · Engaging the Media: Journalists and reporters are people; you need to seek their interest in the work you do and nurture the relationships by inviting them to events, sending them press releases, and so on! Contact a variety of media outlets such as newspapers, radio and television stations to spread your sponsoring group’s story to a wider audience. · Become the Media: Write an article and submit it to local newspapers; take advantage of social networking outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. · Involving the Newcomer: Encourage your sponsored newcomer to participate in public education around refugee issues, sharing personal stories are more likely to engage people. However, it is also important to respect his/her freedom to remain anonymous if he/she chooses to do so.  
  • Getting the Word Out The Nipissing University student group has created a close relationship with North Bay local media to promote their annual International Food Fest event over the past five years. Committee members are interviewed live on CBC Radio and meet with local media outlets such as Bay Today, The North Bay Nugget and radio stations The Fox and CCATS. Completely embracing the event, the Nipissing student group can also count on the media for follow-up coverage. The student group also invites special guests such as the Mayor of North Bay, members of city council and the Member of Provincial Parliament, further increasing the profile of the event. The Nipissing student group also partnered with the Westmount Hospitality Group, who owns the local Holiday Inn and Best Western hotels. These hotels provided facilities for food preparation and offered other services. These partnerships were forged through Nipissing student group’s close ties with the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.   Building relationships with community individuals, groups and the media enabled the WUSC-Nipissing students to reach out beyond the 4,000 students on their campus. A total of 230 people attended their event in 2008 and over 300 in 2009 which enables them to raise $3,000 per year to support their refugee sponsorship program. Every year, more and more people are aware of refugee issues which helps build support for the program.
  • Conclusion   The wider community plays an important role in strengthening student volunteers’ efforts to sponsor refugee students, even more so in small, rural communities. The stories and best practices captured in small, rural communities in Ontario demonstrated that strong community-based relationships can help raise awareness and funds, train volunteers, find employment for newcomers and provide the social and emotional support required as they adapt in their environment. By establishing personal connections, taping into local knowledge, expertise and experience, learning from other community-based organizations, it strengthens both the volunteers’ and the communities’ ability to assist newcomers as they adapt to their new life in Ontario. These stories illustrate the impact of combining student’s dedication, passion and willingness to help others combined with local expertise and resources... stepping stones to building strong, vibrant, welcoming communities.

Building Bridges: Best Practices in Creating Effective Partnerships between Student Volunteers and their Communities to Support Newcomers in Small Communities Building Bridges: Best Practices in Creating Effective Partnerships between Student Volunteers and their Communities to Support Newcomers in Small Communities Presentation Transcript

  • Building Bridges Best Practices in Creating Effective Partnerships between Student Volunteers and their Communities to Support Newcomers in Small Communities
  • Background In 2008-09, WUSC conducted research in the several small Ontario-based communities* with the goal of assisting refugee-sponsoring student groups in exploring opportunities to develop partnerships within their communities and increase community engagement amongst people of all ages, abilities and cultures. * Alfred, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay
  • Student Refugee Program
    • WUSC’s Student Refugee Program (SRP) provides a unique opportunity to students, staff and faculty on post secondary institution campuses to assist student refugees to pursue education in an environment free of violence and fear.
    • Unique in being the only program in the world centered on youth-to-youth sponsorship, the SRP through its student volunteers welcomes over 60 sponsored refugee students each year across Canada – half of which are sponsored in Ontario communities.
  • The Role of Student Volunteers in Refugee Sponsorship Students play a vital role in the refugee sponsorship process by providing the financial, social, emotional and logistical support that is necessary for a sponsored student to successfully settle in Canada.
    • Student volunteers also play a key role in connecting refugee sponsorship programs and their participants with the greater community:
      • Identifying and initiating relationships with organizations, businesses, schools and groups that may have an interest in engaging in the sponsorship process
      • Inviting the wider community to attend refugee and newcomer awareness events and fundraising activities;
      • Liaising with media to raise awareness regarding refugee sponsorship, immigration issues, and their significance within the community;
      • Facilitating a process whereby the entire community can participate in refugee sponsorship and welcoming newcomers.
    The Role of Student Volunteers in Refugee Sponsorship
  • The Role of the Community in Refugee Sponsorship Local host communities play a very important role in the successful integration of newcomers.
  • The Role of the Community in Refugee Sponsorship Some ways in which host communities can contribute towards the success of refugee sponsorship programs:
      • Fundraising
      • Social and emotional support
      • Networking
      • Work / Co-op placement opportunities
      • Donating gifts-in-kind
      • Raising awareness: promoting and attending refugee-related events
  • Refugee Sponsorship in Small Communities Welcoming a newcomer into a small and/or rural community often presents unique opportunities and challenges for sponsoring organizations and all stakeholders involved in the sponsorship process.
  • Refugee Sponsorship in Small Communities
    • Opportunities
    • Strongly defined sense of community spirit; which in turn often translates to a greater inclination towards volunteerism
    • The friendly and welcoming atmosphere often found in smaller communities (relative to that of large urban centres) helps facilitate the integration process of newcomers
    • A more personalized and tailored support system to refugees and newcomers on campus due to the smaller student population and class sizes
    • Students are looking for opportunities to be engaged on local and global issues
  • Refugee Sponsorship in Small Communities
    • Challenges
    • Smaller pool of volunteers to support newcomer integration
    • Less ethnic diversity amongst the local population;
    • Limited immigrant resettlement programs and services;
    • Fewer employment opportunities for newcomers
    • Securing suitable accommodations
    • Comparatively fewer international student organizations on campus
  • Testimonial “ As a foreign student, it is never easy to quickly adapt to a new country and a new culture. But because I was surrounded by a group of professors and students who wanted me to integrate, it was not at all difficult for me to integrate into Canadian society.   The Alfred community was very welcoming and I will never forget them.” Gervais Bagaza, SRP-sponsored student originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, arrived in Canada in 2006 to study at Collège d’Alfred. Gervais graduated in Spring 2009 with a degree in Agricultural Technology .
  • What is a Partnership? Any organization that becomes involved in refugee sponsorship quickly realizes that partnering with outside groups is essential to the success of their program.
    • A Partnership :
    • is a collaboration for a shared goal;
    • is mutually beneficial;
    • brings diversity and unique perspectives to the table;
    • often increases the legitimacy of a program;
    • helps to spread awareness about a program and the issues it addresses;
    • can strengthen a program by expanding its network of support.
  • Off-Campus Partnerships for Refugee Sponsoring Groups
    • Immigrant, Refugee, Multi-Cultural Organizations
    • Faith-based Institutions
    • Local Interest Clubs (ie. Rotary Club, Lions Club, etc)
    • Businesses
    • The Greater Community
  • Best Practices
    • Through this research project, key linkages between student groups and community emerged which were central to successfully sponsoring refugees:
    • Fundraising
    • Emotional and Social Support
    • Training of Volunteers
    • Employment Support
    • Raising Awareness
    The following examples demonstrate student volunteers based in smaller communities who have succeeded in forming partnerships to facilitate the sponsoring and integration of newcomers in their communities.
  • Best Practices: Fundraising Student volunteers in small communities have demonstrated that no challenge is too big to raise funds necessary to support the sponsorship program on their campus. However, their capacity to raise funds greatly improve when linking with individual and community groups.
  • Best Practices: Fundraising
    • College d’Alfred, Alfred
    • 100 students on campus
    • Raises over $13,000 per year!
    • Annual tuition waiver
    • Reduced book prices
    • Developed an “alumni and community outreach strategy”
      • Telephone and net-based fundraising campaign
      • Events and donor recognition
  • Best Practices: Emotional and Social Support A cold winter climate, new food, different cultural norms and expectations, homesickness, loneliness, these are but a few of the obstacles that newcomers face when arriving in Canada. To successfully overcome them and make a smooth transition into living and studying in Canada, newcomers require emotional and social support from their community.    
  • Best Practices: Emotional and Social Support
    • Algoma University, Sault Ste. Marie
    • Facilitated creation of a “Home Stay” program involving families in the community
    • Created through a partnership with a local church
    • The church generated interest in the sponsorship program, made regular announcements
    • Benefits the sponsored students, the student volunteers, and the community as a whole becomes engaged in refugee issues
  • Best Practices: Training of Volunteers Providing on-going volunteer training opportunities for students involved in refugee sponsorship remains an important challenge but it key to ensure that volunteers have the necessary skills to support a newcomer during the transition to his/her new community.   
  • Best Practices: Training of Volunteers
    • Lakehead University, Thunder Bay
    • Improved their refugee sponsorship skills by participating in a WUSC online distance learning web conference
    • Made it possible for students to overcome geographic limitations, access the knowledge and developed skilled required to provide strong social and emotional support to sponsored students
  • Best Practices: Employment Support Employment opportunities are fewer and more competitive in smaller centres. Bearing this in mind, newcomers usually require support in finding work. Sponsoring groups working with newcomers should establish a strong working relationship with their school’s career centre as well as employment agencies and career assistance centres found within the community.
  • Best Practices: Employment Support
    • Algoma University, Sault Ste. Marie
    • Undergraduate population: 1,200
    • Limited employment opportunities
    • Partnered with Employment Connections (local employment agency) & campus career centre
    • One student found employment at the university gym
  • Best Practices: Raising Awareness By educating and engaging your campus and community in refugee issues, you will raise understanding and concern for the challenges facing refugees, and will in turn increase support for your sponsoring group.
  • Best Practices: Raising Awareness
    • Nipissing University, North Bay
    • Annual International Food Fest
      • Strong Media coverage (CBC, etc)
      • Special guests to increase event profile (Mayor, MPP)
      • Partnered with Holiday Inn & Best Western hotels: provision of facilities for food preparation
    • 300+ attendance, many more engaged through media coverage
  • Conclusion The key to successful settlement in smaller centres: the involvement of the whole community in the sponsorship process.
  • Further Information For more information, please see our guide: “ Building Bridges: Best Practices in Creating Effective Partnerships between Student Volunteers and their Communities to Support Newcomers in Small Communities” Link: http://www.wusc.ca/en/campus/students/SRP/274
  • Thank You! This World University Service of Canada (WUSC) would like to thank the following groups and organizations that were involved in the research and focus group discussions surrounding this project.   Nipissing University WUSC Nipissing Local Committee North Bay and District Multicultural Centre Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Bay College Boreal WUSC Boreal Local Committee   College d’Alfred – University of Guelph WUSC Alfred Local Committee Laurentian University WUSC Laurentian Local Committee City of Greater Sudbury Algoma University WUSC Algoma Local Committee Sault Community Career Centre  Contact interculturel francophone de Sudbury (CIFS) Lakehead University WUSC Lakehead Local Committee Thunder Bay Multicultural Association Africa Matters club – Lakehead University Lakehead University Multicultural Centre Lakehead University Student Union Northwestern Ontario Women's Centre DOORS to New Life Refugee Services African-Caribbean Student Association (AFCASA) – Lakehead University
  • Thank You! This project was made possible through the kind support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario.