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.
Taylor McKinney is a graduate student and host of the Student Engage podcast. Taylor's longstanding interest in mediation, dialogue, and conflict resolution inspired her to spend her undergraduate degree pursuing opportunities to work and study in regions at various stages of conflict and reconciliation, including Myanmar, Kosovo, and the Yukon. Currently living and learning in Vancouver, she is now focused on facilitating dialogue with up and coming change makers to learn more about how one person can make a difference. Taylor is pursuing a Master's Degree in Public Policy at Simon Fraser University.
In his fourth year of the Interactive Arts & Technology program at Simon Fraser University, graphic designer Jimmy Phung has worked as a designer and brand strategist, created marketing materials for SAP in Waterloo, Ontario, and is currently a Marketing and Design Assistant at Scentuals Natural & Organic Skin Care.
Vicky Hung is an illustrator and graphic designer with a passion for art, design and animation. She has been a multimedia designer for Vancouver Coastal Health, Access Gallery and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Vicky is in her final year of SFU’s Interactive Arts & Technology program.