Douglas College International Students Help Newcomers Embrace Roots in Canada

Newcomers to Canada face numerous challenges; they often miss their families, are unsure about employment, and face language barriers. Many Douglas College international students face these same challenges and fears every day while also trying to learn new things. Three international students in the Envision Financial-Douglas College Community Building Program, a marketing practicum opportunity, are currently building a marketing plan for Umoja Operation Compassion Society to bring awareness to the great work done by this non-profit.

What’s Umoja? The Umoja Operation Compassion Society is a non-profit organization that helps newcomers learn and grow while better adapting to the culture of Canada. They offer various programs like English lessons, parenting sessions, housing solutions, social connections, and more. Like many non profits doing great work, they are hoping to have a bigger reach through social media to help more newcomers to Canada. With the help of the Douglas students, Umoja hopes to expand and help even more communities.

“Building social and emotional wellness among immigrants is one of Umoja’s best accomplishments,” said Jamie Koop, Program Manager for Umoja Operation Compassion Society. “One of the reasons we applied for this opportunity was to build awareness, build capacity, and build a community for Umoja. It has been great to be able to work with such knowledgeable students that can take where we’re at and help sustain the organization in the long run.”

Murat (Douglas), Jamie (Umoja), Gabriela (Douglas), and Arzo (Douglas).

It’s a fairly standard practice that from January to April of every year, Douglas students work together with outside non-profit organizations to build strategic marketing plans – many New Westminster businesses and non-profits have had experience working with students. For the first time, however, these New West campus students have the opportunity to build something unique – a marketing campaign built off of their own experiences of being new to Canada. Being a part of the program means putting that experience and education into action by building capacity for non-profit partners. These non-profit partners benefit from the help of these students with their vast marketing knowledge.

“Being an international student, I feel very proud to work with Umoja and see the great impact it has made in the community,” said Gabriela Babun, one of the Douglas College students.

Amos, the President / Executive Director of Umoja.

“After listening to the emotional and successful stories from Umoja’s clients, I would love to refer the organization to anyone who would ever need to settle in BC,” said Arzo Ghiasi, another student on the project. “It was definitely a worthwhile experience.”

Currently live on Umoja’s Facebook page is a video developed by the students. The video highlights the struggles and the successes of coming to Canada with the help of Umoja. This will help other newcomers find out that there are organizations there to help them. For the future, these students have developed a social media plan in order to bring in new potential markets, as well as get the awareness of what this non-profit does for the community.

Jamie, Gabriela and Arzo strategize.

To see what the past and current students are working on, check out Envision Financial at Douglas on Facebook. And save the date April 11: there will be a final event where the Umoja students Facebook-livestream and show off all that they have helped to create, so it’s worth tuning in.

For more info on the Envision Financial-Douglas College Community Building Program check out this page.