Barbecue welcomes new class of English learners

As an airport worker, Hiromi Ishikawa believes it would serve her well to speak English. When the opportunity came up, she chose Windsor.

A native of Japan, she is one of about 150 students starting classes in the English Language Improvement Program this month. A barbecue luncheon at the Centre for English Language Development welcomed the students Friday as they completed their first week of orientation.

“I picked Windsor because it offers three months of study,” Ishikawa said. “I want to stay and learn longer.”

She is in Canada through the Hope for Youth program, a project of the government of Canada which pays for airfare, language training and accommodations for 150 young people affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Ishikawa’s home city of Natori, in the Miyagi prefecture, was badly affected.

So far, she said, she has felt very welcome in Windsor.

“The people here are very kind,” she said. “It is a very nice town. I like Canada.”

Following Friday’s lunch, the students were headed to pick up their class schedules and textbooks, said the centre’s director, Jennie Atkins.

“This kind of welcome reception is ideal for our students since they get to meet each other as well as their instructors and other University of Windsor staff in a more social setting,” she said.

This year’s class hails from a diverse group of countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Libya, Greece and Albania as well as Japan. The students have already begun exploring the local region, with an organized trip to tour Colasanti’s tropical gardens, explore the Art Gallery of Windsor and a play a few frames of cosmic bowling.