September 30, 2020

BY MIKE VIELMA

Survivor Conestoga is an annual event that offers useful tips on living in Canada to ESL students at the school.

“The main goal is about being safe, healthy and happy in a new place,” said Natasha Magon, an English as a second language (ESL) teacher at the college.

Magon helped the International Department plan the event, which was held on Nov. 5 on the first floor of the E-wing.

Students in the program come from various countries, such as Saudi Arabia and China, and some are new to the Canadian lifestyle while others have been here for years. Some things are done completely different in their cultures.

Magon said, “Most of the students are not aware of their cultural rights and responsibilities as Canadians.”

Keith Martin, a member of Counselling Services, who along with Magon presented the safe relationship portion during Survivor, said, “International students are sometimes taken advantage of because they don’t know how to act in difficult situations.”

The three-hour event was designed to answer any uncertainties students had regarding various aspects of life in Canada outside of school.

There were seven different stations displaying helpful advice. They included: drugs and alcohol awareness, safe relationship tips, healthy nutrition, healthy sexuality, safety and security, student life and healthy ways to de-stress.

Each station had a guest speaker who shared pointers on all the topics and presented basic tips and skills to work through problems typically dealt with in Canada. There were even demonstrations for some of the presentations.

Mashael Hamed, a level-two ESL student, said, “I liked that we got to try different flavours of smoothies in the healthy nutrition presentation.”

Magon said hopefully a lot of the students’ McDonald’s diet will change after seeing some healthy and cheap options for meals.

All the ESL students were divided into seven groups and they rotated every 12 minutes from station to station to see all of the presentations.

Other presentations included tips to protect yourself during sex, different ways to protect yourself from a predator or stalker and various techniques used to relax the mind and body.

The peaceful mediation on aerobic mats in the hallway was one of the favourite stations for most students.

Mohammed Tammar, a level-two ESL student, said, “I liked that we got to relax. We had to close our eyes and think happy thoughts.”

More than 50 door prizes were given out at the end of the event.

“I won a toaster. Now I can have a good breakfast before school,” Tammar said.

Other prizes included rice makers, coffee makers, utensils, school supplies and gift cards.

“Judging from the amount of energy and the reaction from the students, I would say it (Survivor) was very well received,” Martin said.