NMC-CESI is a student led educational group at the University of Toronto founded by students at the Dept. of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations. NMC-CESI’s educational mission is to create a positive learning space and educational experiences wherein newcomer youth and students can grow as individuals, be assisted with language acquisition and reading/writing skills, and exchange knowledge of the culture and history of their lands. We hope to provide newcomer youth with not only workshops, but also scholarships and support networks that will help them continue their studies, and to adjust positively to their new lives here in Toronto. By bringing different communities together to exchange their cultures and experiences, our group counters Islamophobia, Homophobia and all forms of racism.
Since being granted our initial Faculty of Arts and Science funding in April 2016, NMC-CESI has been holding weekly language and cultural exchange workshops between U of T students and newcomer youth on campus to facilitate conversations among participants, helping to improve their speaking and writing skills in both Arabic and English. The activities are meant to introduce both parties to different aspects of Canadian and Syrian culture. Each week we have 40-50 participants, newcomers and students, attending our workshops, matched 1-1.
In addition to these workshops, our group provides student volunteers as interpreters/translators to sponsor groups and newcomer families and other resettlement organizations. NMC-CESI has over 200 student volunteers, 160 of which are Arabic-speakers, who have been assisting sponsors and newcomers to communicate and perform necessary tasks pertaining to their resettlement in Canada.
Through the activities and events we have run, we have reached out to many organizations and groups outside of our university community. These development of these partnerships and positive collaborations has enabled us to expand the scope of our programming and introduce student-volunteers and newcomers to unique experiences and to make important connections. Our cultural awareness events have ranged from indigenous eco-tours, to regional landmarks, theatre, Museum tours at both the Aga Khan and the ROM, etc.
We are partnered with numerous U of T Departments and Colleges and have done our utmost to raise funds for our programming independently. Our initiative is primary sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Science, The Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations, and Victoria College. In addition to Hart House, the Munk School of Global Affairs, New College, Woodsworth College, the Arts and Science Students’ Union, School of Graduate Studies, the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Political Science, the Department of Sociology, the Department of English, and the School of Graduate Studies. Special thanks to Victoria College Student Projects Levy Fund!
Visit the University of Toronto’s NMC news website for the latest updates.