Some young Calgarians who came to Canada as refugees are now helping other new arrivals adjust to life in Canada.
It’s part of the Calgary Bridge Foundation’s summer mentorship program, with the focus on coaching teens from other countries on what to expect when they step into a Canadian classroom for the first time.
Fatima Alawad, 16, remembers what it was like when she arrived from Syria eight months ago.
“I left Syria because of the war,” Alawad said. “I felt, when I came, very scared.”
Alawad and another peer mentor, 18-year-old Yohannes Nirayo, are now introducing immigrant teens to the basics of school life, teaching them things like how to use a locker.
Nirayo came to Canada three years ago from Ethiopia.
“It wasn’t really safe for us,” he said.
Both find helping young immigrants to be very rewarding.
“I know the struggle,” Nirayo said. “Leaving all your family, friends that you left behind.”
“I want to help people because I know what they’re feeling,” Alawad said. “In Canada, I’m very happy, because Canada is my new home now. It’s my life.”
The Calgary Bridge Foundation runs programs for immigrant students throughout the school year.