News | Opportutoring organizes fundraising event

Art show, and live music at Mezcal Collective

On Saturday, March 31, Opportutoring, a McGill student-run non-profit organization offering refugees English tutoring through Skype, held its first fundraiser event at the Mezcal Collective. The event, called “The Live Exhibit,” showcased art by [DESCRIPTOR] artists, including one of Opportutoring’s students, Alaa Dukhan. The show also featured live painting, dance, and musical performances by volunteer artists supporting Opportutoring’s fundraising initiative. Live art pieces were raffled off, while other exhibited artworks were sold in an auction. Octavia Maes, co-founder of Opportutoring, explained: “This night represents what we want to do; that is bringing people from different backgrounds together, to create an event that has the biggest possible impact.”

“This night represents what we want to do; that is bringing people from different backgrounds together, to create an event that has the biggest possible impact”

Fundraising for students taking the TOEFL exam

Opportutoring was born from an initiative by Solin residence students in late 2015. At the time, there was no syllabus or formal organizational structure. Less than a year after its conception, Maes and Kenz-Ali Boubekeur, both McGill undergraduate students, decided to restructure the initiative to better assist refugees learning English. Together with other students, they developed a curriculum and joined Enactus McGill, a community of social entrepreneurs. In the fall of 2016, Opportutoring as we know it was created.

Opportutoring’s mandate seeks to help refugees adapt to their new community by teaching essential reading and writing English skills. Some of Opportutoring’s students are planning on taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in order to qualify for acceptance at English-speaking universities. Others want to get the necessary credentials to pursue various professions in their countries of resettlement, and to better communicate in their new context.

Opportutoring’s mandate seeks to help refugees adapt to their new community by teaching essential reading and writing English skills.

Boubekeur expanded on the issues facing students intending to take the TOEFL: “The problem is that the test is at the same price everywhere in the world, that is about $220. This means that it is the same price for someone living in North America [as it is] for a refugee. Since many of them face financial hardships, the goal of the event is to raise money to allow them to pass the TOEFL.”

Boubekeur added: “We are exhibiting the artworks done by Alaa, and a portion of the night’s receipts will go to him and his family, to help them in their reinsertion.”

Currently, Opportutoring is also a contestant in the finals of the Social Enterprise stream of the Dobson Cup, McGill’s annual startup competition. Boubekeur further explained that while the event would help cover the direct costs of students currently being tutored, winning the Dobson Cup would “enable [Opportutoring] to become an actual NGO, and to expand to other universities. It would also allow us to develop our network of students and tutors.”

Opportutoring is also a contestant in the finals of the Social Enterprise stream of the Dobson Cup, McGill’s annual startup competition.

A diversity of artists

The night started with a performance by Montreal band Ruby Skies. In an interview with the Daily, Luca Martial, the band’s drummer, said, “We wanted to play tonight because we thought Opportutoring’s cause is definitely worthwhile, and that the way the show would take place was original because of the many artists performing at the same time.”

They were followed by music from Super Freddy and Zèra, and dance performances by Léa Tremblay Fong and Martine Castera. Their off-stage performance, in the middle of the crowd, had a clear feminist stance. They outlined their abs and muscles on their bodies with lip gloss, and threw face powder at each other’s faces. A crowd member could distinctively be heard yelling “You don’t need it!” Following their performance hip-hop duo stormed out to Princess Nokia’s famous song “Tomboy.” Later, sol.Evol and Nectar performed on stage.

Participants were struck by the variety of artists. Charles Sirisawat, a U1 liberal arts student, noted the “wide ranging works of art.”

Martial agreed, saying, “[The] artists were really diversified, […] we were excited to be in contact with individuals from various backgrounds.”

“[The] artists were really diversified, […] we were excited to be in contact with individuals from various backgrounds.”

Maes added, “Everyone has something different to bring, and we wanted to bring these differences together around a common cause.”

“Opportutoring’s common theme is that we want people from different worlds to make something cool. We wanted to bring these different artists together to show that you just need to get together to be able to do awesome things,” said Boubekeur.

“Opportutoring’s common theme is that we want people from different worlds to make something cool. We wanted to bring these different artists together to show that you just need to get together to be able to do awesome things”