On Friday I had the opportunity to speak at the ESL Conference in Edmonton. Just before I spoke, I had the privilege of hearing two teenagers, originally from Syria, address those gathered in the large ballroom.
These young ladies spoke of their experiences in Syria: the fear and lockdowns, the bombings and destruction. They spoke of their arduous journeys and their many adjustments to Canada: culture, weather and language topping their lists. They spoke of the challenges they face in Canadian schools not always understanding their friends or teachers because of the speed of typical speech and the need to continually learn new vocabulary. They spoke of their sorrow leaving behind their homes and their fear for friends and family members left behind.
Through smiles and nervous giggles, they voiced appreciation for the acceptance, patience and persistence of their teachers. They also voiced appreciation for the safety and security they have found within Canada.
I cannot imagine the adversity and horrors these teenagers have faced in their young lives. I felt honoured to be in their presence. Our community is richer for their perspective, insight and wisdom.