ESL students reach out to fellow student and children in need

By Costa Maragos Posted: July 11, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Students from the ESL's Advance English class with instructor Ellen Son (front-centre).
Students from the ESL's Advance English class with instructor Ellen Son (front-centre). Photo courtesy of External Relations

A fundraiser potluck, held by a group of English as a Second Language (ESL) students, served up a lunchtime buffet of tasty international cuisine and a lot of kindness.

The students from an Advanced English class shared their home-made meals that included a rich variety of rice, noodles, chicken, and beef dishes as well as sweets. The potluck was held July 7 to raise money for the Regina Food Bank and CityKidz, an organization that helps children in need.

But help was also extended to a fellow classmate, Oliver Chen, whose bike was recently stolen.

“We wanted to do something for him. At ESL we do potluck at least once a semester and we thought that might be a way to raise some funds for him. Each of us pitched in some money to help him fund a new bike,” says Ellen Son, instructor in the Advanced English class which features students from Bangladesh, China, Hungary, Jordan, and Thailand.

Chen, who is from China, has been in the U of R’s English as a Second Language program for nearly two years. He biked to class each day, until one morning when he discovered it was gone. Then came the surprise gesture from the class.

“I am touched. I was so grateful for what they did for me,” says Chen who has enrolled in the Faculty of Business Administration.

The students were happy to help out.

“It was sadness when he got here and told us he lost his bike,” says classmate Phonpiya Vikitset, who is from Thailand and plans on earning a master of public administration from the U of R’s Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. “We figured what shall we do for him? So we started collecting money. We feel fulfilled and happy for him.”

The money raised from the potluck was used to help people in the community.

“This is the first time we joined a fundraiser potluck,” says Cris Young, a student from China who will enroll in the Faculty of Business Administration. “It is a generous action because at first, we wanted to help only our classmate, but gradually things continued and got bigger. It is very meaningful for me.”

Says fellow classmate Yian Si, who is also from China: “It is a meaningful activity to help poor people even if it is a little money.”

There are currently 163 students enrolled in the Academic English as a Second Language program. There are also 129 students enrolled in the U of R’s short-term customized programs and 65 in the Language Instruction Newcomers to Canada Program (LINC).

The U of R has been providing ESL programming since 1972 and provides students with the English language skills they need to succeed in undergraduate studies, graduate studies or career.

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