ELS Projects My Canada Storytelling Project I t was the right place; it was the right time, with the right participants and the right audience. The Canada 150 celebrations were in full swing. “Storytelling” was both the catalyst and itself the activity in a climate for all Canadians, new and old, to share their “Canada Story.” The ELS “My Canada Storytelling Project” was the perfect project for the students: the background of each student—of varied origins, culture, customs and languages—are themselves rich and colourful stories, stories that would add to the larger narrative of Canada 150. Zuzana Buchanan, EAP instructor and Student Engagement Centre coordinator (and student activity extraordinaire) offers, “a variety of storytelling projects have been launched, for example, by CBC (What’s your Story) and EPL (Share your Story). Our work thus aligns with wider interest in the use of multimedia storytelling to give more people an opportunity to relate their experiences of community and culture in Canada.” With guidance from Zuzana and other instructors, students would use words, images, and music to create their narratives. Amongst the various objectives of the project, “My Canada” was meant to “motivate students to create and share their work in English,” and “develop practical skills and language confidence.” “[This] aligns well with the aims of the [English Laguage School],” Zuzana continues. “It enables students to engage with new technologies, to learn practical skills, to understand and share their experiences of the [school] and of Canada, and to develop their English language skills in a memorable and productive manner.” After weeks of learning and creating, the students came up with 12 videos, 15 recordings, 4 presentations, 1 song, and many pictures. We featured a number of these projects at the ELS Canada Day 150 Student Showcase (held on July 19, 2017). While each story was unique, there were common themes in them: discovery, travel, adventure, challenges, growth, hope, and new beginnings. W o r d T r a v E L S | 6 Perhaps more so to adding to the larger narrative of Canada 150, “My Canada” became the opportunity for students to not affirm but reaffirm their being in Canada: their decision on choosing to study here for some, their reason for making Canada their new home for others.
Because the majority of the projects were produced in digital media, if you are reading a printed copy of this newsletter, please view the projects here via a digital copy of Word TravELS, available on the English Language School web site (www.uab.ca/ELS) under “About Us.” To all students who participated in the “My Canada Storytelling Project,” we thank you for sharing your stories. And whether you are continuing your stories within Canada or beyond, we wish you all the best Questions as Guidelines All students were given questions as guidelines to help them organize their stories. One of the questions was: “What is the most interesting place you have visited in Canada?” Many students responded, “Niagara Falls” and “Banff.” One responded “Drumheller.” Another “Vancouver.” However, we did a double take when we read “LRT station” in one of the responses. The student explains, …it was the most interesting place which I have visited in Edmonton because I have never seen before metro or tube or subway! I am looking forward to learning about it as much as it possible. Because we can use such as station to construct in my city… We have the same climate and ground. We may not have a perfect transit system, but we have one. Here are the other questions and answers our students provided. Q: What is something that surprised you about Canada? People greeting people they don’t know Public transport The atmosphere is very peaceful, and people are very kind. Since many…people [of different ethnicity] live together, nobody thinks I am not a Canadian until [I start] talking, and it is very comfortable for me. This is [very] different…in my country. I was surprised by the diverse educational system and diverse values of Canada...I think Canada has a better education system (than that of my home country) that respects individual decisions and allows individuals to make various efforts for their own lives. Q: How have you changed since you came to Canada. I gained a lot of skills and experiences. I have improved my English and spoke with better fluency. Moreover, I have a lot of friends from all over the world. Since I came to Canada, I have been able to enjoy… and design a more diverse and interesting [life for myself]. I do not care [about my appearance as much] compared to before. I changed my driving mentality— from racing to comity and cooperation. I have lost 14 kilos of my weight since I arrived in Edmonton…[I am] eating more vegetables and less meat…I used to eat only meat. Q: What advice would you give to other students who have just arrived in Canada? Get yourself involved in helping people. Do not miss the chance to continue your education. Be active and do not [be] afraid to speak English. Learn...English by [connecting] with the community. Set goals. Ask questions. W o r d T r a v E L S | 7