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New Brunswick

Newcomer students learn tech basics in Arabic | Spare News

SAINT JOHN • A class of 13 newcomers are now fully equipped with basic technical skills, having recently completed the Greater Saint John YMCA’s six-week Basic Technology course in Arabic. The same course, now offered in Somali, began Tuesday at the Saint John Regional Y.

Hussain Alabdulaziz, manager of the YMCA’s Newcomer Support Services, said he saw large numbers of Arabic-speaking high school students coming to Newcomers Connections, and many of them didn’t know how to use or work with laptops because they were from war zones came or various other reasons. He said while his team was looking for summer activities to put together, he thought about putting together a course in Arabic to help students become acquainted with technology and access community resources.

He said through this program, “newly arriving youth will not see themselves any differently than a local” nor will they “underestimate themselves”.

Alabdulaziz said he then found Abdulqader Alshibli, who was using the YMCA’s services, and accepted his offer to volunteer as a program instructor. Alshibli, a Syrian, has a computer science background and studied to finish his bachelor’s degree but was unable to graduate because of the ongoing war, Alabdulaziz said.

Both Alabdulaziz and Alshibli worked together to design the new course to equip newcomers with basic technological skills to help them get into school.

The course was the first of its kind and was offered from September 13th to October 18th. It covered basic computer operations, computer handling, access to community resources, cybersecurity, privacy, internet access, and tools and applications.

According to Alabdulaziz, the free program started with 10 students and they were surprised by a new face in the class every day. He said the class was slowly ending with a group of 13 students who never missed a class unless they were ill, and each student successfully graduated with a certificate last Thursday.

Mohammed Bakr, 14, said he not only learned about technology but also learned Arabic. Bakr, who is fluent in English, said that although he could not speak Arabic, he still understood everything that was taught “because the teacher taught us as if he were telling us things from the heart.

“When we work, he makes it clear to all of us.”

Bakr said he knows most of the curriculum, having been in Canada for four years now, but there were things that surprised him. He said he enjoyed the fun times when his classmates taught him Arabic words and when they competed to see who was quicker at the job.

“In three weeks, I kind of learned more Arabic,” he said.

“I wish it had been five months or more, it would have been fun and I would have learned most of the Arabic,” he added, noting that he is in contact with Alshibli to find out if more computer programs are in the pipeline.

Alshibli said his experience with the course was “successful and very exciting”. He said he would also like the program to be extended, as the questions asked by the participants showed they wanted to learn more. He said there were no challenges and the six weeks went smoothly.

Alshibli, who himself came to Canada in April, said he was “very excited” to be given this opportunity to serve as an instructor. Through this program, he said he wanted to support and give back to the community that welcomed him so warmly.

In an email, Greater Saint John YMCA President and CEO Shilo Boucher described the program as a “successful one” designed to help newcomers “reach their true potential and shine.”

She acknowledged that “language is a major barrier for newcomers” and added that she was pleased the number had risen from 10 to 13.

“I congratulate the young people on completing the program and applaud their commitment,” she added.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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