Helena Yoon from Korea (left); Daisy Nguyen, Vietnam; Wendy Zarr, program coordinator/instructor; Josef Apfelbeck, Germany; Zarina Kuznetsova, Russia; Annie Luan, Taiwan; Marwah Sadeq, Iraq and Noe Lagoe, Japan, are some of the students in the English class at Vernon and District Immigrant Services Society who have won the nation-wide Citizenship Challenge, which tested their knowledge of Canadian history and government. (Photo submitted)

Students shine in Citzenship Challenge

English language students at Vernon & District Immigrant Services Society study Canada and win

  • May. 24, 2017 4:30 a.m.

Cara Brady

Morning Star Staff

Students in the English class proved they’re among the best in Canada in the Citizenship Challenge, demonstrating their knowledge of Canadian history and government and winning a set of books on famous Canadians for the Vernon and District Immigrant Services Society.

“The students decided to take part and I thought this class would do well. Some of them are preparing for the citizenship process and this was valuable study for them. I’m really proud of how they worked to do well in the challenge,” said Wendy Zarr, ESL program coordinator/instructor.

A project of Historica Canada, the Citzenship Challenge has had the participation of more than 340,000 participants across the country since it started in 2010. This year, 40,427 students from across Canada took the Challenge.

Annie Luan, from Taiwan, studied all of January for the test.

“I learned from the book Discover Canada. There is so much about what is Canada, early history, education, government in the provinces, who the people are. Also the languages and cultures. It also helped my children. It was so exciting when we heard that we did well,” she said.

Bertha Lima, from Mexico, also took part in the challenge.

“I have done it before and it is very interesting. We learned about how Canada was formed in the past and about the laws and elections. When I first heard about Canada, I didn’t imagine how big it was. Now I see the forests and the mountains and it is beautiful. I love everything about Canada, particularly how the provinces are all different,” she said.

“This is a good way to learn and get more confidence. We learned about the community.”

The students enjoyed studying together.

“We helped each other. We have to thank the teacher, Wendy,” said Luan.

Zarr gives the credit to the students, who studied for the challenge in addition to their English classes which they take for three hours a day five days a week.

“They took it on like champions and they are,” she said, adding that students missing from the photo are Sue from Korea, Samuel from El Salvador, Esther from Korea, Svetlana from Kazakhstan and Jenny from China.

The Vernon and District Immigrant Services Society, which is federally funded and serves about 400 people a year, offers a number of programs for clients in the North Okanagan and has been in Vernon since 1989.

These include English classes (LINC, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada), citizenship classes, help with job searches and settling in with information about housing, community services and things like childcare, which allows parents to take English classes and work. There are also translation services available for documents and certificates.

Zarr, who has travelled and worked in South America, said she keeps learning with the students.

“I know what it’s like to be in another country with another language and culture. It’s very rewarding to help people and I have learned a lot about Canada as well,” she said. “I also like the opportunity to speak Spanish with students from Spanish-speaking countries. And I like it when former students drop in or get in touch and let us know how they are doing.”

For more information about Vernon and District Immigrant Services Society, call 250-542-4177, email englishvdiss@shaw.ca or see www.vdiss.com.

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