New Student Volunteer Initiative at QSoE

Written by Rachel O’Dell

Queen’s University B.Ed student, Chris Suppa, is leading a new initiative at Queen’s School of English during the Summer 2017 English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Program called the QSoE Community Volunteer Program. About 30 interested QSoE students attended the first meeting which took place on Friday, June 2.

During the meeting, Chris asked the students to explain what “service” meant from their perspectives, and showed a short video to spark some dialogue on why anyone would want to do work for free. Students suggested that service is about helping others who need help, or helping to solve problems for your community. It was decided that service provides opportunities to be kind, and perceiving ourselves as kind people makes us feel good. Other students noted that it’s fun to collaborate, and that service is a great opportunity to practice English and make connections.

Chris discussed plans for the upcoming 4 weeks of the Community Volunteer Program. Each week has a theme: education, environment, and food service. Week 4 is to be determined by the students’ interests; Chris asked the students’ to begin thinking about what is important to them, and how they could take action in Kingston.

Following the program introduction by Chris, the group headed over to the John Orr Tower Community Garden to meet with two Queen’s University outdoor education students. The QSoE students were not familiar with the concept of community gardens, but soon found out as they helped to plant peas, summer squash and radish seeds in the beds at the John Orr Tower Community Garden.

The QSoE Community Volunteer Program is pursuing orchestrating a cultural exchange program at Lord Strathcona Elementary School in Kingston. They are also planning on serving at Martha’s Table, a non- profit charitable organization that provides low cost nutritious meals to those in need, in safe and accepting environment.

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Thanksgiving Holiday

This weekend, many QSoE students will have their first experience of celebrating Thanksgiving Day. When Thanksgiving was mentioned to some students, their first thoughts were of excitement for Black Friday, and the spectacular deals shoppers may find. However, Black Friday is a distinctly American phenomenon which coincides with Thanksgiving weekend in the United States. Although they celebrate the holiday in a very similar way, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the third Thursday in November. In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.

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Cornucopia or ‘Horn of Plenty’ – a symbol of abundance and nourishment associated with Thanksgiving Day

Canadians have been officially celebrating Thanksgiving Day since 1879, when Parliament proclaimed it as “a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”. The practice of having a special feast in thanks and celebration of the harvest at this time of the year has been a tradition of First Nations and Native American tribes, and of peasant societies in Europe for long before any records of Europeans holding formal harvest celebrations. One of the earliest recorded dates of such an organized celebration by European members of society dates to 1578 when explorers in the Arctic wrote of their harvest celebration during this time of the year!

In the United States, much of the origin of Thanksgiving Day as a holiday is attributed to the Pilgrims (early European settlers in Massachusetts) who celebrated their first harvest with a feast of freshly harvested North American foods. These foods likely included wild fowl (such as turkey, grouse, duck, or goose), indigenous berries and nuts, seafood, and foods which Native Americans were cultivating such as corn, potatoes, beans, peas, squash, and onions.

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Wild Turkeys

Today, both Canadians and Americans typically celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a day off of work/school, travelling to be with family and close friends, and honoring the blessings of their lives by sharing a feast including dishes such as a whole roasted turkey, squash, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin or apple pie. Roasting a turkey is something that is usually only done on Thanksgiving Day, though sometimes at Christmas or Easter as well. Although there are wild turkeys living in Ontario (which can be hunted and eaten), generally people buy domestically-raised turkeys from the grocery store, or from a local farmer.

We would love to hear about your experiences and see your photos of Thanksgiving Day celebrations! Email soe@queensu.ca to share.

Poutine: A Canadian Dish!

One of the activities outside of class at the School of English is to make poutine! Poutine is a Canadian dish originating in the province of Quebec, and is made with French fries and cheese curds, topped with a light-brown gravy. Students enjoyed making (and eating) it last week. Thanks to Social Media Club members Honami and Airi for submitting these photos!

Marion Edith Dubin Scholarship in English Winner: Akiho Yatsuda!

Akiho Yatsuda is the Summer 2016 winner of the Marion Edith Dubin Scholarship in English! Akiho, from Chikushi Jogakuen University in Dazaifu City, Fukuoka, Japan, is currently in the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program at the Queen’s School of English. She arrived last Fall, and will be finishing the program in August of this year. We had a chance to sit down with her recently to talk about her experience here:

What were her first impressions of Canada? She recounts her first glimpses of Toronto from the airplane, and compared her view of Toronto to the large cities in Japan. “I’d heard Toronto was a big city, but I didn’t think it was!”

What does she like about Kingston? “I really like Kingston because there is a lot of nature. There are lots of trees, a lake and lots of green space.”

“Kingstonians are also very kind,” she says. She recounts many instances of being lost and fellow Kingstonians helping her with directions.

What experience has she enjoyed the most since she has been here? Her best experiences so far have been ice skating behind City Hall in the winter, and also watching the Kingston Frontenacs hockey team play at the K-Rock Centre. “It was my first time seeing a hockey game. The players were all hitting each other, but it was very exciting!”

She enjoyed her recent winter term when she became friends with classmates who were from all over the world — Brazil, Quebec, Saudi Arabia, China and Libia. “Each person had different opinions, and they all were very motivated to study English.”

Akiho received the highest mark in her class. How did she do it? “The secret is to sit as close to the teacher as possible. If I sit near the teacher I get more opportunities to speak.”

What does she like about the Queen’s School of English? “The teachers in the School of English are really great. They teach very academic English and they have lots of experience. They also give you lots of one-on-one attention.”

What advice does she have to give to students? “Do your best every day. Don’t be lazy. Try to keep doing something every day/month. Always think about your motivation for coming here. I think about my parents and the opportunity they gave me to study here.”

What career goals does she have? Akiho has one more year to complete at university, but would like to work in Japan in communications and perhaps with international students. “I would like to help people using English.”

For more information on Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries or Financial Assistance at the School of English click here.

Making Friends at QSoE

By: Alexander Brunner

alex blog 3My name is Alexander Brunner. I was born and raised in Switzerland. After finishing the Swiss public school, I did an apprenticeship as a car mechanic. While I was working, I realised that I wanted to go back to school. I wanted to get more education because my goal has always been to study psychology. After finishing my apprenticeship, I came to Canada to start learning English at Queen’s School of English.

I chose Queen’s to learn English because of several reasons. The main reason was because of the efforts that Queen’s makes to encourage social connections. Meeting new people, attending social events or just talking to strangers was always something I liked to do. Queen’s School of English gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. They organize social events nearly every day in which, for example, you play card games or you go to play pool or bowling and everything you do, you do with other students from QSoE.

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Additionally, they organize trips like going to Montreal, Toronto or Ottawa, which are also very fun to attend with your friends from QSoE. In general, you don’t have to worry about not making friends or being left behind in social activities. In fact, it is very difficult to not make friends at QSoE, simply because every student going to QSoE is in the same situation as you. Being in a new country where everything seems totally different than in your home country, having problems to communicate because of a language that you first need to learn and leaving all your friends behind brings every student at QSoE in the same situation. The good thing is that it brings students more together, as they need to help each other “survive” the first few weeks in this “strange” country and Queen’s School of English helps you to make the first contacts with students.

alex blog 6Let’s talk about how it is to learn English at Queen’s School of English. Back in Switzerland I was also learning English, so I thought it would not be a big difference learning English here or there. I was wrong. First, I thought the school that I attended in Switzerland for learning English was not bad. Now I realize how boring it was back there. At QSoE you will be surprised how easy it is to learn English. You do so many different activities to learn English, for example, you have discussions, you will learn vocabulary by talking about different topics that you are interested in, you will have debates, you will do different activities in teamwork or in bigger groups and a lot more. Every day will be a new experience. You will be surprised by how easy it is to learn English at QSoE. The teachers at QSoE always try to make your visit to Canada the best experience for you.

Queen’s School of English gave me what I needed and more. I made unbelievable progress with my English and had an amazing time with people from all over the world. I will never forget my experience at QSoE and I’m thankful for the opportunity that I got from QSoE.