PEI

'After I learn English I can do everything': P.E.I. newcomers thrilled with language progress

More than 260 newcomers were honoured at an English language “Recognition Ceremony” at Holland College on Thursday.

Refugees see hopes, dreams possible as English improves

Khaled Alzoubi, who moved to P.E.I. from Jordan two years ago, holds his son Abdal-Rhman, who was born in Charlottetown five months ago. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

The young boy perched in his dad's arms will likely have a much easier time learning English.

Abdal-Rhman Alzoubi was born in Charlottetown five months ago.

But while he may not know the language yet, he may have been able to sense the pride that filled the room at Holland College on Thursday.

His mom and dad, along with 259 other smiling newcomers, were honoured at an English language "Recognition Ceremony."

"After I learn English I can do everything," said Khaled Alzoubi, who arrived in P.E.I. as a refugee from Jordan two years ago with his wife and four other children.

When Larisa Volodina moved from Russia five years ago, the only English words she knew were hi and thank you. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Language instructor Bethany Collicut said it's not just about learning verbs and nouns, they are learning how to start a new life.

"Sometimes they're really excited and enthusiastic but other times they're really scared and they're trying their best not to project that," she said. "If I put myself in the middle of Beijing or wherever they come from, I would be petrified."

The instructors teach the newcomers how to do "the simplest things that we take for granted," like buying groceries.

"They get such a big sense of accomplishment when they can get their own car insurance. It's really rewarding," Collicut said.

P.E.I. newcomers are recognized Thursday at Holland College for their achievements in learning English. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

When Larisa Volodina moved from Russia five years ago, the only English words she knew were hi and thank you.

"Everything for me was difficult," she said.

She said her dream is to work as a teacher in a daycare, and now that her English has improved, she can begin to make that happen.

"I am so proud about myself," she said.

With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan

now