NMC-CESI is a student-led, educational and humanitarian initiative created by a group of students and faculty at the Dept. of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. This initiative serves as an educational resource for Syrian newcomer youth who need help with language acquisition, and are interested in continuing their studies and engaging in a cultural exchange program here at the University of Toronto. Our newcomer students improve their English through the language and cultural exchange program, and our Arabic-speaking volunteers also benefit from our educational workshops. NMC-CESI facilitates an ongoing language and cultural exchange program between UofT students and newcomer Syrian youth (who are learning English), but also connects fluent Arabic speakers, as translators or interpreters, to refugee sponsorship groups, including Lifeline Syria and the UofT Syria Initiative. Our volunteers assist with a range of activities and needs, helping sponsors and newcomers to communicate and also to perform necessary tasks and goals pertaining to their resettlement and adjustment to life here in Canada. Our organization also serves to raise awareness about the ongoing crisis in Syria and the Middle East and the global reaction to these issues, raising funds in order to help Syrian refugees and students at risk.
NMC-CESI’s educational mission is foremost to create a positive learning space where newcomer youth can grow as individuals, be assisted with language acquisition and reading/writing skills. However, we also hope to create a network of resources as well as a constructive dialogue between the University of Toronto and other Canadian universities, governmental and non-governmental organizations. Ultimately we hope to provide Syrian newcomer youth with not only workshops but also scholarships and support networks that will help them continue their undergraduate or graduate studies, and to positively adjust to their new lives here in Toronto and within Canadian society.