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Hillsborough teenager developing translation app for Syrian students

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WATCH ABOVE: A high school student in Hillsborough is developing a translation app for an easily accessible reference tool. As Global’s Paul Cormier reports, it’s not only helping students, but proving useful for parents, teachers and staff. – Sep 23, 2016

Alex Steeves, a 16-year-old student at Caledonia High School, is developing a smartphone app that will translate Arabic into English in hopes it will help his Syrian classmates better adjust to the English language.

The app will take 25 common phrases like, ‘How much does this cost?’ or ‘May I use the bathroom?’ and translate them, helping both teachers and all students in the classrooms.

READ MORE: Several Syrian refugee families leaving Saint John, others considering moving

Innovative design teacher, Benjamin Kelly challenged his students to think outside the box and come up with an app that would be different from what they were used to doing.

“I said, ‘Let’s do something a little more meaningful than dirt bike apps or Xbox tips apps, let’s do something that’ll change the world in a meaningful way,’ and Alex looked at me and said, ‘I have an idea, I would like to make an app for the Syrian students in New Brunswick and their school, to help them better adjust to the school life’,” Kelly said.

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The app is still in the preliminary stages of development but the goal is to eventually sell it across the country.

“The world has enough flashlight apps, so it’s nice to see Alex making something meaningful so that if ever it does reach the app store, this’ll change lives,” Kelly added.

READ MORE: Fredericton looking to bridge gap between employers and Syrian refugees

Though it’s still early on, Alex is already thinking of another design for the app.

“It’s pretty much exactly like this one, but instead of having the buttons in Arabic they’re going to have English, I never really talk about it just yet … it’s just an idea right now,” Alex said.

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