Mary Leighton


Mary Leighton is the Director of Language Partners BC, in charge of supporting infrastructure and direction. She grew up in Vancouver but has lived in other places including Morocco, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. In other parts of her life, Mary works as Training & Coordinator with the BC NDP, and is getting involved in indigenous language revitalization. Her favourite thing about LPBC is the good spirit of the people involved.  

Vince Lok

vince.pngVince facilitated the men's English-Arabic Exchange program last fall and now supports Language Partners BC as Assistant Director. He is a Master of Education candidate at UBC in Educational Studies for Sustainability. Vancouver, BC is Vince's hometown which he loves dearly; equally, he believes in travel for learning and has visited the seven continents, met many fine people, and created cherished memories. He enjoys asking questions and listening to people talk about themselves. 

Michelle Kaczmarek 

Michelle.pngMichelle is the Website and Database Coordinator at Language Partners BC. After arriving in British Columbia from the UK in 2015, she’s now a PhD student in Information Studies at the University of British Columbia. Michelle is passionate about finding creative ways to support diverse languages and cultures. After participating in the LPBC Arabic-English exchange in Summer 2016, she decided to volunteer to support the program.  

Wing Wu

wing.pngGraduated from UBC with a degree in food resources and sustainable agriculture, Wing started her involvement education-related projects and clubs in Vancouver, Canada in her early university years in 2011. Beyond her background in food system sustainability, she's very passionate about intercultural education and how to make cities more liveable for a diverse urban population. Wing first participated in a tandem language exchange in 2013 before her exchange study in Europe. The program has inspired her greatly and she continued her involvement with different language exchange programs. It has been a great pleasure to work with LPBC as Social Media Coordinator to create possibilities for more and push the sharing process further on its way!

Eman Mostafa

Eman1.pngEman is a facilitator of the women’s Arabic-English program on Tuesdays at Ajyal Center. She grew up in Egypt, but loves to travel, has been to Saudi Arabia, and has been in Vancouver for four months. Her favourite thing is to help others and make them feel comfortable.


Amira Mustafa

Amira1.pngAmira left Egypt for the first time a year ago when she moved to Vancouver. She graduated from the Faculty of Languages and she developed the passion of language teaching from her first year in university. Amira worked as an Arabic-English translator first, then shifted her career to do the thing she loves most, which is teaching languages. In Egypt she used to be an English teacher and when she moved to Canada she started to teach Arabic as a second language. In Canada she developed more appreciation for the value of volunteering and helping people. She volunteered as an ESL teacher for refugees and proudly began her facilitating career with Language Partners BC.

Tracy Strauch

Tracy1.pngTracy is a facilitator with the women’s Arabic-English program on Sundays with Nada. Born and raised in Regina she has also lived in Ottawa and St. John’s. She works at UBC as a Program Assistant and is completing her continuing studies certificate in International Development. As someone interested in learning new languages, meeting new people, and becoming more involved in the community, Tracy is very excited to be part of LPBC.

Nada Alnajjar

Nada1.pngNada is a facilitator with Tracy. She is from Saudi Arabia and is a second year student at UBC majoring in Food, Nutrition and Health. Brownies are her favourite dessert. She loves meeting new people and enjoys helping others. She is passionate about making newcomers feel welcomed and develop a cohesive community.

Anne Hales

Anne1.pngAnne is currently facilitating her first Language Partners group at Gordon Neighbourhood House. She was born and grew up in BC, and has never lived too far away from the ocean. She is currently Senior Researcher at the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, and is completing her doctorate in education. When she isn’t studying, she loves to get to the mountains and onto the water. She enjoys volunteering for LPBC as a way of connecting people through friendly conversation and learning.  

Franny Varty

Franny1.pngFranny is a facilitator with LPBC with Mu Yang for the Wednesday mixed language session at Little Mountain Neighbourhood House. She grew up on Bowen Island and has lived and worked in a variety of places such as Istanbul, Turkey, and Liwonde, Malawi. Franny is completing her double major in International Relations and Environmental Geography at UBC and works for the UBC tandem Language Learning Program at UBC's Global Lounge. Her favourite thing about LPBC is making new friends and sharing commonalities and differences in different languages.

Mu Yang

Mu1.pngMu is a civil designer, designing civil and electrical infrastructures for Greater Vancouver. Only recently arrived in Canada, he loves to make friends and try new sports like skiing, and traveling. He is a facilitator with LPBC’s program at Little Mountain Neighbourhood House, helping neighbours to exchange culture and build the community.  Mu's greatest passion is to serve the public, and he looks forward to any volunteering opportunities or joining the government or a political party.

Yi Lin Huang

yi.pngYi Lin Huang is a third-year undergraduate Sociology and Psychology student at the University of British Columbia. Her passion for volunteerism and social issues has led her to intern as a teacher for Pakistani refugees in Thailand, where she developed an interest to work as a childminder with LPBC. Outside of lecture halls, you can find Yi Lin in studios across Vancouver where she enjoys trying out all kinds of new dances.

Nathalie Buu

Nathalie.pngNathalie is a child minder for the women’s Arabic-English program with LPBC, and she loves getting the chance to interact with incredible kids and adults involved in this program. Nathalie is Vietnamese, born in Montreal, and has also lived in America, China, Switzerland and Germany. Now she is in Vancouver attending UBC, and studying in the faculty of Science.


Laura Stewart

laura.pngLaura Stewart, Early Childhood Educator, is supporting Childcare for our families at Language Partners.She was born in San Francisco, but has called Vancouver home for most of her life. Laura works as an ECE at Simon Fraser University Childcare Society. She also co-ordinates and provides Childcare for the Canadian Labour Congress Winter School. Laura is passionate about Early Years education and believes in accessible, affordable and enriched Childcare for all children.

Kathryn Stewart

kathryn.pngKathryn Stewart is supporting childcare for the families at Language Partners, with her mum, Laura Stewart. Kathryn is a High School teacher herself, teaching EAL and Social Studies in North Vancouver, but loves the chance to work with the smaller set, as well as their mums and dads. Kathryn has lived and taught in Indonesia, Turkey and Australia. She loves the connections facilitated by sharing language.

Past Team Members

Marie Shuman

marie.pngIn 2015, Mary Leighton emailed Marie with the fuzzy idea to create an Arabic-English exchange for refugee women across British Columbia. Marie was eager to join the project, wanting to use her interest in language learning, and experience as a language program coordinator to create a space for community members to share snacks, cultures, dialogue, and kindness. Marie helped coordinate that first pilot project. She is fluent in English and French, and is learning Arabic and American Sign Language. She loves avocados, Americanos, cross-country cycling, and travel.  

Farah El-Afifi

Farah.pngFarah El-Afifi was the co-facilitator of the women's Arabic exchange program for two terms running, primarily in charge of translation and cultural exchange. She was born in Egypt and spent her life moving back and forth between Cairo and Vancouver. She feels at home in both Arab and Canadian culture and currently studies International Relations at UBC in hopes of orienting her career towards cultural exchange and people empowerment. Farah's favorite things about LPBC are the stories that are shared and bridges that are gapped by the participants and team.