“I did better and better in school, and with that I was able to make new friends”
Wendylyn, today 15, arrived in Canada from the Philippines with her family in 2014. Her parents made the hard decision to prioritize the future of their children over their own successes. “They decided to move us all to Canada for the opportunities here”.
Wendylyn first walked in her new classroom very shyly after being presented to her new classmates. With the abrupt cultural switch, she now had to get used to the aspects of her new life, she was now faced with children she knew very little about. It started being difficult to connect with others her age, “I was anxious around others, there wasn’t much I could talk about since I didn’t know what they liked”. In addition to her social struggles, Wendelyn was having trouble with her schoolwork being in English, “What I struggled most with was the language, since I didn’t speak English at home”.
Her school counsellor noticed and decided to refer her to the Study Buddy program. Thinking this would allow her to perfect her homework all the while practicing English freely with an adult she could trust to be there for her.
She met her Big Sister Varsha in October of 2014. Varsha, now 25, had always dreamed of having a little sister. When she heard about this volunteering opportunity, she immediately thought of her own struggles with fitting in a new community, “Coming from an Indian background, it was difficult when I first came to Canada, I had troubles with the new culture and fitting in”. She understood Wendylyn’s struggles as her own.
Their relationship grew week after week in the library. Wendylyn developed her English skills and alongside her academic struggles disappearing, appeared a n increase in academic and social confidence. ““I did better and better in school, and with that I was able to make new friends”.
Today, Wendylyn fits in with her peers. “Varsha opened my mind to what Canada is, because she had already walked in my shoes, I was able to refer to her experience and apply it to my own”. Though Wendylyn still seeks academic help, Varsha and her have grown into friends that now share a strong mutual connection, “I used to see her as a young girl, but as she grew older I now see her more and more as a friend”.