Hopewell’s Sanders Lee backs EAL effort

In many ways, Sanders Lee is representative of the face of the new Canada. Born in Hong Kong, he immigrated to Canada in 1991, having learned second and third languages along the way. As many may be aware, Canada has the second highest percentage of immigrants in the world (next to Australia), the majority are coming here from Asia, and at least 60 percent of all newcomers will need language training to succeed personally and professionally.

While Sanders Lee was already proficient in English and German, he knows many must learn their language skills after they arrive in Canada. “Language is the key to unlocking the potential of immigrants,” says Lee, 42, executive chairman of Hopewell Group of Companies, a consortium that deals primarily in real estate. His $45,000 recent donation to the Faculty of Education will help support a new graduate scholarship in English as an Additional Language (EAL). The field was once known as English as a Second Language or ESL, but EAL better reflects the fact that English may be a third or fourth language of acquisition for many multilingual speakers.

The EAL initiative by the Faculty of Education aims to ensure teachers and public policy makers can best serve children and adults as they learn English.  This month, Tom Ricento joins the U of C as Canada’s first research chair in English as an Additional Language in the Faculty of Education. Some 20 Calgarians have contributed $600,000 to the EAL initiative.

Sanders Lee is a key figure in this Calgary effort. A graduate of University of Augsburg, in Augsburg, Germany, Lee moved to Canada shortly after. In April 1999, he was named one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 and he participated in the Quantum Shift Program (a program developed and run by KPMG and the Ivey School of Business). He is currently a mentor for Alberta Mentor Foundation for Youth and a member of the Young President’s Organization and of the philanthropic organization, Social Venture Partners.

Lee was approached by Patricia Mar, an EAL teacher and activist, who had raised $6,000 from the Calgary community. Lee’s $45,000 was matched by a bequest from Marilyn McClinton, a teacher and graduate of the Faculty of Education. The new Hopewell Teaching English as a Second Language Graduate Scholarship will be offered for the first time in next September 2008.

Continued EAL support will come from those like Mr. Sanders Lee, who understand that Canada needs individual initiative, international connections, and the need to provide ways for new immigrants to overcome language hurdles. His company’s motto: “Together, we can achieve the impossible” also well describes the University’s efforts to ensure equity and opportunities for our newcomers.

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