27 Jul Summer at New Hope
Summer at New Hope
Summer is a special time at New Hope. Our children’s activities are in full swing, the community dinners are livelier than ever, and there’s an overall excitement in the air. We asked our intern Kaleigh to share her experience and reflections on the summer at New Hope.
Kaleigh has been an intern with us since May, and she’ll be here until the end of August. Her contribution to New Hope has been invaluable. As our intern, she works with both the building manager and program director. That means she’s involved in programs, events, resident support and building management. Her main responsibilities are supporting the kids’ programs, planning events, assisting in a housing search for a few of our families, and building relationships with the residents. Hanging out with kids and having coffee with women is part of her job… it doesn’t get much better than that!
Summer Kids’ Programs
The weekly children’s programs are definitely a highlight of the summer. They keep the kids at New Hope engaged and busy during the months when school is out. There are currently 22 children at New Hope ranging in age from a few months to 14-years-old. Most of the children fall in the kindergarten to grade three bracket, which means there is always great energy at the New Hope building!
The summer kids’ programs are run by incredible volunteers. This year, we have women from Village Church, a youth group from Surrey Alliance Church, and two interns from Calvary Baptist Church leading our weekly programs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
One day a week is all about sports, focused on improving skills and sportsmanship. The crowd favourites are soccer and basketball. The other two programs are a combination of games, crafts, storytimes and music.
These programs are so important because the children love having people to play with and something to do–any time, any day. They can get bored during the summer because they have so much free time on their hands. These programs provide a helpful break in the days and people who come specifically to have fun with them. This helps create lasting memories and a positive transition into life in Canada for the children.
Community dinners are ingrained into the life and rhythm of New Hope. They demonstrate our values and commitment to community in the building. They happen bi-weekly and are the only regular events in our schedule that bring our residents and staff together. A memorable community dinner this summer was our first international potluck that marked the end of the Ramadan fasting period. Five residents made dishes from their home countries to share, and it was a wonderful community-building event.
Another special highlight from a community dinner this summer was an impromptu Arabic dance party we had with some of the moms and kids following the dinner. We stayed in the parking lot for over an hour after most people had gone home. We got a portable speaker, and a few staff and volunteers clumsily danced alongside our more experienced Arabic friends. It felt so natural to be together, and it was a time full of deep belly laughter.
Every dinner, we need a volunteer team to provide the food, serve the dinner, and clean up afterwards. It’s too big of a job for our small team to manage regularly, and we want to invite people to participate. These teams bless our whole building, and volunteering is perhaps the best way for local groups to get an idea of what it is like here. If you want more info about hosting a community dinner, email our Program Director Mindy: email@example.com.
Reflections on Interning at New Hope this Summer
The highlight of my summer at New Hope:
There isn’t one main highlight, because every day is filled with so many little highlights. From cross-cultural relationships amongst the residents to spontaneous Arabic dance parties, every day I get a glimpse of beauty. Entering into people’s homes comfortably, sitting with the residents and communicating with them regardless of language barriers will always be special to me.
Something surprising I’ve learned:
Deep connections can come without a shared common language. Some of our residents are advanced in English, and some are just beginning to learn. It’s easy to think that if you cannot speak someone’s language, you cannot be of service to them or build a relationship with them. But this is completely false. Speaking is only one form of communication, and I’ve been astounded at how possible it is to build relationships using other modes of communication with people who speak little or no English.
A final thought I’d like to share:
If you’ve never befriended someone who has fled their country to find refuge in Canada, I challenge you to start now. It will change your life. Newcomers to Canada desperately need Canadians who are willing to walk alongside them and be their friends in a completely foreign and lonely country. Life is so much better when done together.