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Christine Kang  Simrat Grewal
Christine Kang and Simrat Grewal

Peer educators pursue health-care careers

June 10, 2010

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Christine Kang and Simrat Grewal have never met, but they have a lot in common.

Both of them are receiving B.Sc. degrees this month and both them are children of naturalized Canadian parents—Kang’s are from Korea and Grewal’s are from India.

And both are pursuing health-care careers— for Kang at UBC medical school and Grewal at the University of Pennsylvania dental school.

But more importantly, for the scores of fellow students they’ve helped, both also volunteered as SFU learning and writing peer educators.

SFU has approximately 80 peer educators at the Burnaby and Surrey campuses who help students with information and resources, one-on-one skills training and group workshops among other things.

Grewal was first attracted to peer training after attending an SFU high-school recruiting workshop at which some presenters were peer educators.

“Punjabi is still the language primarily used in my household,” he says, “so I know the challenges faced by those attempting to write in a language that isn’t their own and thought I could help them to learn and write English at a university level.”

Kang has been a peer educator since 2006, in between numerous learning opportunities of her own. They include an exchange at Korea University, co-op semesters doing medical research, medical volunteering in Mongolia and volunteering with kids on a First Nations reserve.

Neither Grewal nor Kang have chosen education as a career but they both see teaching others as part of their chosen professions.

“Dental care is not seen as a component of one’s health in the East Indian community, and as a dentist I hope to do my part in alleviating this misconception, which is teaching in it’s own way,” says Grewal.

Being a peer educator is similar to helping medical patients, adds Kang.

“You have to establish a rapport with that person, find out what they want, figure out their strengths and weaknesses and then guide them to make informed decisions.”

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