For the second year in a row, North York Arts is partnering with local organizations and facilitators to run Second Act – an ESL theatre program for youth. Second Act provides a series of free theatre-focused workshops for youth to feel more comfortable and confident speaking English.

Juan Poveda, a newcomer from Colombia and a student in the Social Service Worker program at Seneca, is excited to bring his passion for service into his role as coordinator for the program.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Juan Poveda, I was born in Colombia and I came to Canada two years ago. I am studying social service work at Seneca College and I am very passionate about service.

In regards to Second Act, what are you looking forward too?

I am looking forward to helping people, to giving newcomers like me the opportunity to improve their English and their skills through arts. I find the arts to be a very powerful and safe space for people to explore the city and to explore themselves.  

How do you define service and why do you see service as an art?

To me, service is a combination of a lot of skills, but mainly it is to put all of your accumulated experience in front of another person for them to take what is helpful for them. That’s what service is to me.

I see service as an art in every single way because it involves a lot of arts, like the art of listening, the art of conversation, of being willing to be vulnerable. There are a lot of opportunities to use other kinds of arts like more traditional understanding of arts such as dance, theatre, writing, painting, etc. All of those arts are tools for people to explore themselves and to get to know themselves better.

Why is it important to for the newcomer community to have access to arts and culture programming?

I feel like arts are an important transformation tool to improve society and reduce inequality. When you’re a newcomer, you experience a lot of shocks; the culture shock first but then you have to overcome any other obstacles that are there in society. Through arts programs, you can get to know other people which will help you to overcome these barriers because you’re going learn that you are not alone. Also, arts programs provide a safe space to talk about things and improve your English.

Interview by: Vimbai Chikoore

Event and Communications Assistant