Calgary program makes going back to school easier for immigrant teens

Click to play video: 'New to the game: immigrant teens prepare to start school in Calgary'
New to the game: immigrant teens prepare to start school in Calgary
WATCH ABOVE: Playing ball hockey for the first time is just a warm-up for a major learning experience for some new arrivals in Calgary. Here’s Gil Tucker, with immigrant teens getting a bit of back-to-school coaching from some young Calgarians familiar with their journey – Aug 17, 2016

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.

READ MORE: Syrian refugees experience 1st summer camp in Calgary

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.

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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.

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