Volunteering – Inspiration and Appreciation

Allan Paquet is a volunteer in the English Tutor Program and with Community Connections. We asked him to share a little bit about his experience volunteering at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.

“For the past four years I have been a Community Volunteer and ESL Tutor with Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I feel Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia is truly a special organization that is worth my valuable time. The commitment has been around two to three hours per week and I find most learners are flexible and willing to meet around busy schedules.

Being an English tutor is easier than I thought it might be at the beginning. I work at a bank and am trained in finance and other than a few English classes in university I have no formal training. However I have been able to use my native English speaking experience to help folks who are trying to integrate into our society with sometimes limited language skills. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of support provided by Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia. They are there every step of the way to answer questions, provide encouragement, and even support the tutors with regular lessons that help provide course materials.

As a Community Volunteer I am responsible to assist newcomers learn more about our community and culture by taking them to local markets, libraries, cultural events, and museums. This has taught me lots about my own community that I never knew and given me a renewed appreciation for the city of Halifax.

I have worked with newcomers from a variety of different places (Afghanistan, Columbia, and Haiti) and have gained an appreciation for their respective languages and cultures. I can easily say that I have learned more from these folks than I have given. They have all been so appreciative and have come to Canada with a zest for learning and a work ethic second to none. The character of these newcomers is astounding and I have made some special friendships that I know will last well after I stop being their English tutor.

I worked with a family from Afghanistan who were nothing short of amazing people. The parents came to our city with their seven children and very little English language knowledge. The parents worked hard to learn as much English as they could but the children were amazing in their ability to absorb the language in no time at all.

I am currently working with a young man from Haiti to help him study for his TOEFL test—a requirement of non-English students who want to study at Canadian universities. He is an amazingly hard worker who goes to English school in the morning and then works full-time in addition to his studies.

One thing I have learned by volunteering is how hard working and determined newcomers are to be successful. I am proud to be Canadian and I think we are very lucky to live in such a great country. I can’t think of a better way to give back to my community than to volunteer with newcomers who bring a variety of skills and talents. Each person I have met has demonstrated a tremendous amount of character that I know will truly contribute to Canadian society.”

~ Allan Paquet