BUILDING BRIDGES - The Grade 7 class at Gateway Christian School is reaching out to youth in the community who are immigrants and refugees to help better understand their challenges of living in a new place.

Youth reaching out to youth in the Red Deer community

Grade 7 class at Gateway Christian School making City a better place

  • Mar. 29, 2017 5:21 p.m.

For Jesse Bourne’s class of Grade 7 students at Gateway Christian School in Red Deer, current events have been hitting home in a big way.

Over the past several months, Bourne and his Social Studies 7 class have been hard at work on a project that focuses on the challenges and blessings that immigrants and refugees face when they come to Canada.

“The basis of the project kind of came out of our social studies curriculum and just studying Canadian history. When we look at Canadian history, immigration and refugees are a big part of our history,” said Bourne, noting the project also lends itself to recognizing the issue of immigrants and refugees is still important today.

“The story was starting to think about that and recognized that in Red Deer we’ve had a lot of influx where we kind of brought in — in Red Deer Public Schools — quite a few Syrian refugees. So we decided to write storybooks that would focus on what it’s like for the refugees when they get here.”

In order to accomplish that goal, Bourne and his students decided to connect with a few students at West Park Elementary School and Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School that are brand new to Canada in order to gain a better understanding of what they’ve been through as they try to settle into their new home.

“I think lots of times, especially something like the Syrian refugees, there’s been so much media on it and kind of on the two sides and it creates a real contentious issue. It kind of gets forgotten that these are people and these are kids and now they’re living in this new country,” Bourne said, noting the heart of the project was to create understanding and give some of the Gateway students a chance to meet some of the kids who had recently moved to Canada.

He noted that meeting the refugee students and hearing their stories has had a huge impact on his own students.

“It just brings some reality to them. I think our kids go in and they don’t quite realize the struggle that this would be,” Bourne said.

When the students finally meet with the refugees though, those challenges and struggles are quickly brought into perspective.

“I think they start to understand to a fuller measure what it would be like.”

One example those challenges, Bourne pointed out, is the transition to learning in English. Some students have to make use of an interpreter in order to communicate with their classmates and teachers, which can make learning extremely frustrating.

“I think they start to get the frustration that it would be for them. I think probably at times, whether it was at West Park Elementary with the Syrian students or when we had the Thurber students come over — (my students) are probably frustrated at times because they’re trying to hear (the refugee’s) story and they can’t. I think that really just helps them to connect with the difficulties.”

The project also provides the Grade 7 students an opportunity to hear about some of the things that makes Canada a great place to live in the eyes of someone who is brand new to the country.

“It’s not some big thing on a news headline or something on social media that says we should think this about refugees or we should think that or immigration’s bad or it’s good. It localizes it and these are just real people at the school down the street.

“It just helps build bridges.”

Bourne added that after spring break he is hoping to bring together all the students and families who have been part of the project in order to share the storybooks and build a sense of community within the school and district.

zcormier@reddeerexpress.com

Just Posted

Blackfalds RCMP investigate break and enter at Fas Gas

RCMP search for suspect who cut through an outside wall to gain access

Operating Budget focuses significantly on community safety

Proposed 2% tax increase for operating budget, debate runs in January

UPDATE: Red Deer RCMP investigate non-suspicious death downtown

48 St. behind transit terminal was closed off earlier Wednesday

Team Canada dancer returns to Red Deer laden with medals

Red Deer dancer wins three silver medals and a bronze at World Championship

Local author releases brand new international thriller

Retired teacher Larry Stewart hosting a book launch this Saturday

Troubled Monk releases new spirit

Troubled Spirit vodka was introduced in early December

Google searches suggest 2017 a tough year

What were Canadians were curious about: Google searches suggest 2017 a tough year

Democrat wins stunning red-state Alabama Senate upset

Democrat Doug Jones wins stunning red-state Alabama Senate upset against Roy Moore

New fighter-jet competition to have national ‘economic interest’ requirement

Trudeau government wants to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s with 88 new fighters by as early as 2025

The top-binged shows on Netflix in 2017

Which show did you cheat on your spouse with by watching ahead?

2017 word of the year: Feminism

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017: ‘Feminism’

200 Russians to compete in Olympics as neutrals

The Russian Olympic Committee expects 200 to compete in South Korea

Researchers claim the ‘man flu’ does exist

Review of scientific studies suggests ‘man flu’ may be more intense: researcher

Trudeau appoints Supreme Court chief justice

Prime Minister Trudeau appoints Richard Wagner as Supreme Court chief justice

Most Read