You are currently viewing Volunteering at IWSO- By: Hazelle Velicaria
Hazelle Velicaria

Volunteering at IWSO- By: Hazelle Velicaria

  • Post category:Newsletters
  • Reading time:4 mins read

When I was a little girl, I would often hear family members recount their personal experiences of leaving their beloved homes and humble roots, emigrating from the Philippines in search of a better life. Growing up, I quickly realized that these stories of sacrifices and challenges are common narratives shared amongst many immigrants.

As a second-generation Canadian, I felt compelled to play my part in welcoming newcomers into my community. And so, upon learning about the amazing work being done at IWSO and their ongoing commitments to helping and empowering immigrant women, it became rather clear that this was the organization I wanted to support.

Since November of 2020, I have had the pleasure of facilitating weekly hour-long seminars to help IWSO clients prepare for their Canadian citizenship examinations. Given the unique circumstances posed by the pandemic, I offer these group classes online via Zoom where I cover test materials and address questions that the clients may have. The class attracts women from diverse backgrounds with many learning English as a second or even third language! That said, though the primary focus of the course is to prepare them for their citizenship tests, for many, the class doubles as a language training session to improve both their English oral comprehension and verbal skills. My time has also been put towards preparing additional learning resources and offering one-on-one tutoring sessions to ensure that the clients feel well prepared. Since all the learning is done remotely, you will often find me encouraging clients to use our WhatsApp group, which is our main platform for communication outside of class hours, to hold discussions with myself and classmates to further group learning and camaraderie.

As I reflect on my time with these extraordinary women, I am happy to see, firsthand, my simple efforts toward fostering a safe space and open learning environment have such a positive impact on others. I consider my privilege as a Canadian-born citizen as both an opportunity and a responsibility to help those making the same journey my family made over 25 years ago, offering the support I wish my relatives had received back in their day. I see my family in these women who seek to begin a new life in Canada, and I am gratified by the thought that I am helping them achieve their goals.

This experience has been incredibly rewarding thus far, and ­­­­I look forward to continuing my support to IWSO!

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Immigrant Women Services Ottawa
219 Argyle Avenue, Suite 400
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 2H4
Tel: 613-729-3145
Fax: 613-729-9308