Sustaining our community’s future

My path to committing to LPBC

A values-aligned home at LPBC

My first session with Language Partners BC was in the spring of 2018. I had considered getting involved with LPBC before, and jumped in at that specific moment. The attraction was a session that was to be run out of Kiwassa Neighbourhood House for the first time. As a semi-recent resident of Hastings-Sunrise, I had been looking for ways to connect with neighbourhood projects and settle into my new community. I trained as a facilitator and both facilitated and participated in that first session at Kiwassa. One of my favourite moments was our final session when every member of the group shared a favourite song in the language they were offering. The cultural learnings and joy were so deep that day as we said goodbye to each other.

Here’s the song I shared, Je veux by French singer Zaz. It’s a song about wanting joy and love in life rather than material objects or financial success.

Before taking the plunge and facilitating that session, I had first reached out to Language Partners in 2017, when I was working with the organization Dogwood BC. One of the things that had motivated me to get involved with Dogwood was a strong sense that people should be more involved in the decisions that affect them. While that specific conviction was more motivated around climate change and energy policy, I quickly came to realize that that value held true for me in most situations. This autonomy over decision-making was also a foundational value for me in language-learning and teaching.

Picture of co-facilitator Kareen Wong (left) and three participants in the second program ran at Kiwassa

Picture of co-facilitator Kareen Wong (left) and three participants in the second program ran at Kiwassa

My path towards being a full-time language educator 

Borth language learning and teaching were things I had largely approached as a side gig up until my involvement with Language Partners. I did French immersion growing up, I did a trilingual undergraduate degree in French and Spanish, I had studied both Hebrew and Yiddish. Sure, these pursuits had been a significant chunk of my life and brought work opportunities and connections, but they hadn't taken a central place until I could see them coming together with my strongest inclination which is to be involved in community work.  

LPBC brought together so many things I felt passionately about, with a healthy helping of fun and playfulness. Learning to facilitate the programs felt like deepening a commitment to mutual aid, fostering autonomy over decision-making, and community building. Participants don’t need to pay expensive class fees to learn skills that are transferable to all language-learning environments and get a sense of what they really want to learn in a language. They are empowered to create the group structure that will support their language learning goals.

In the past year I have become a French teacher. I regularly find myself applying things I learnt through LPBC in my classroom, which solidified my resolve to continue sustaining this community.

What sustainability looks like at LPBC right now 

I recently joined the committee shaping Language Partners into a cooperative. The process of becoming a cooperative is under way at LPBC, and is full of new learnings and connections. An exciting part of learning about cooperative structures is realizing that it will provide opportunity for participants (future potential coop members!) to not only make decisions about their program functioning but also in the way Language Partners operates. This means that participants that want more connection with their language-learning will have even more opportunities to create the community they want to see.

As language teaching becomes an increasingly central part of my life, LPBC keeps me connected to those big picture ideals and goals I have, of involved communities that make decisions for themselves, right here at home. Ensuring the organization can sustain itself through an official cooperative structure is a way I can give back to a language community that has nourished me for over three years now.