An expansive and vibrant community, Surrey is one of the fastest growing cities in British Columbia. A hub for some of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse neighborhoods in the Lower Mainland the city is home to more than 30,000 new immigrants. For many of these newcomers, the largest barriers to integration will be language and communication, discrimination, and difficulty finding meaningful employment due to a lack of local connections and work experience.
Understanding the barriers many new immigrants face, five students from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology formed Connecting Circle, a series of weekend workshops that connect international students with local businesses and community groups to complete freelance design projects. Through these hands-on workshops, the Connecting Circle team provides an environment for international students to practice English while learning and applying applicable skills under the watch of a mentor. The student gain relevant experience and get connected to small businesses within the Surrey community. Their clients receive completed creative work and are introduced to local talent.
The team is the winner of SFU’s 2017 Student Community Engagement Competition, an award that comes with a three thousand dollar grand prize that will help them kick start the project. Their first community partner - S.U.C.C.E.S.S. - is a non-profit organization located in Surrey that helps refugees and new immigrants overcome language and cultural barriers.