Together Project

Meet Welcome Group Program Volunteer Josh Arthurs!


An interview with Welcome Group Volunteer, Josh Arthurs, professor of Historical and Cultural Studies at the University of Toronto-Scarborough.

What inspired you to volunteer with Together Project?

I recently moved back to Toronto after almost thirty years living in the US and Italy, and wanted to reconnect with the city I grew up in. What makes Toronto such a special place are its people, who come from all walks of life and every part of the globe to make it their home. My own great-grandparents came here from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s, fleeing persecution and discrimination, and built a new life for themselves and their family. More than a century later, I want to make sure that it remains a welcoming place for anyone who needs a refuge.

What does the term “welcoming community” mean to you?

It means taking the time to get to know the people in your community, not just as faces you walk by every day, but as individuals whose life experiences may be very different from your own, but with whom you can find deep points of connection. It also means valuing what everyone brings to the table: we are all building our city and our world together, in an ongoing and dynamic way.

What is the value of community volunteering with refugee newcomers?

For volunteers, working with refugee newcomers is a great way to meet remarkable people and learn from their experiences, share your own knowledge and perspectives, and help shape the future of your community.

What do people with different backgrounds bring to a Welcome Group match?

My Welcome Group included people from the same culture as the refugee newcomer as well as others from different cultural backgrounds. This variety allowed us to assist our new friend in different ways: with adjusting to a new place, finding work, helping navigate school and public services, and just finding points of human connection. It was a great team, and we will be staying in touch for a long time to come.


Interested in becoming a volunteer with our Welcome Group Program? Find out more here!

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