The second day of my placement was on Friday, February 26th. This time I stayed there for almost a full day — from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM (the centre usually runs from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM). Therefore, I got to familiarize myself a little more with the place. After this day, I feel as though I have gotten to know how things work around the centre more, and I feel much more comfortable in the environment than I did on my first visit.
I was hoping that for this visit, I would be assigned to a task that would be more engaging and involved with the operations at the Welcome Centre. I really wanted to get a chance to meet and and interact with some of the families there. 🙂
However, after signing in and meeting with Mohsen Mahmoud (the supervisor), I was once again handed the keys to the portable, and given the same task (to organize and sort out all the donations for the Syrian refugees).
Well, I guess we just got to make the best of what we get, right?
8:00AM – 12:00PM
So it was time to get down to business!
It had been 3 days since my first visit to the portable, so I was pleased to see that there were even more donations than there were on Monday! Our community’s generous spirit is truly inspiring. 🙂 Seeing this, I felt more motivated to get all these donations organized the best that I could.
There were so many more new backpacks full of new supplies this time –
I ended up staying in the portable for a whole 4 hours. I was there from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM. We made a lot of progress today!
With the increase in donations, it was getting harder and harder to manage the piles. I tried my best to refold some of the clothes in order to keep them looking neat and organized, so that it would be convenient for those who would be looking through these piles. 🙂
Although it wasn’t what I initially had in mind, I was glad to be a part of this operation.
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
At 12:00 PM, I went back to the main office and spoke to Mohsen, in hopes that there was more work that I could assist with. At first, he told me that I could do some observation. I sat in the main office, and saw as multiple families of all different races came in. I was in midst of such diversity — I noticed many unique cultural elements in the attire of the individuals coming by, and heard each of them speak interesting international languages. While sitting there, I got to see a little bit of how each of the families were taken in and talked to by the staff, and were given the assistance and information they needed. I also got a glimpse of the great collaborative spirit at the Welcome Centre. All of the staff worked eagerly with the families and with each other. This was a great experience as I now have a little bit more knowledge about the services provided at the Welcome Centre. It kind of made me wonder about some of my family back home in Bangladesh. We had often insisted that my Grandmother would come to Canada and live with us. However, my Grandmother was always reluctant to do so, because Bangladesh is a country she is very comfortable in and the place she’s always called home. However, if circumstances become more difficult in Bangladesh, maybe my Grandmother could really benefit from a centre such as this one. Dealing with culture shock and her adjustment to Canada would be made much easier with the help of the Peel Welcome Centre. 🙂
One of the highlights of my day was something that happened while I was in the office. A child from a Syrian family, probably about the age of 3 or 4, came up to me, and starting showing me some crayons he was playing with. He had such an energetic and bright little spirit. He was also very talkative! He was telling me so many things – however, all of it was in Arabic! Unfortunately, I do not know how to understand nor speak the language, so I did not know what he was saying! 😦 Nonetheless, what I did understand, was the happiness and innocence in his voice. At that moment, I felt so grateful that such a young child like him would not have to face the horrors and dangers due to the injustice that had been going on around him in his old country. He will get to keep that bright light and spirit that I saw in him today. 🙂
1:00 PM – 1:40 PM
At around 1:00 PM, the staff was taking a little break, and during this time …
The staff was holding a little potluck goodbye party for one of the staff members, Huda, as it was her last day working there. To my surprise, the staff was nice enough to actually invite me to be a part of the little potluck lunch as well! 🙂 The food was so tasty, I’m actually still thinking about and craving one of the appetizer dishes they had! To keep things in theme, it was so wonderful that their food selection consisted of dishes originating from several different cultures. They had a selection of Middle Eastern, Indian and Greek foods. (Unfortunately, I’m not sure what the actual names of all the dishes were!)
During this break, I became much more familiar with the staff and learned more about their personal lives. They were talking about some of their parenting experiences and their children’s experiences in school (which I won’t talk about in detail due to confidentiality!). Some of the things they were saying, I could relate to due to my role as an older sibling and secondary parental figure to my fourteen-year-old and ten-year-old sisters. The staff members were also interested in what I was doing, and wanted to hear more about my program and my future plans.
(Interesting little tidbit: One of the women working there actually told me that I looked like her daughter! She even showed me a picture of her daughter – and yes, she did actually look very similar to me!)
1:40 pm – 3:00 pm
After this little break, I was given the task to organize some flyers into their respective categories in the office. I also had to throw out any irrelevant or outdated flyers and books that happened to still be on the shelves.
I was also asked to photocopy any of the resources that they were running low on.
While I was doing this, I came to know of many resources, organizations, and events that the government provides for those who may have recently immigrated to Canada. I was unaware that there were actually so many different options available here in Canada. There were services that helped with networking, childcare, education, getting jobs, volunteering, learning the English language, and so on! Furthermore, they also offered these resources and even entire booklets in different languages so that it would be convenient for individuals of different backgrounds.
As time went by, I noticed that the Welcome Centre seems much quieter in the late afternoons than the busy mornings when families were going in and out constantly.
On my first visit, since I only spent my time in the portables, I didn’t have the opportunity to see the way the Welcome Centre runs on a daily basis. I am truly glad that I got the chance to do so today! 🙂 Overall, I am seeing more and more that it really is a great place, with many friendly, hardworking and helpful staff. A welcoming environment indeed! 🙂