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‘It was a turning point in my life’: Syrian international student receives educational support

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WATCH: An international student from Syria is working to continue her education after moving to Canada in the midst of that country's civil war. Her Whitby high school and The Spark of Hope Foundation are trying to ensure she can do so, despite the high cost. Aaron Streck reports.

An international student from Syria is working to continue her education after moving to Canada in the midst of that country’s civil war.

Her Whitby high school is trying to ensure she can do so, despite the high cost.

“It was a turning point in my life,” student Zena Khadour said.

Khadour moved to Whitby from Syria two years ago for a better education and a better life.

Trafalgar Castle School wasn’t just where the now 19-year-old studied but a place she also called home.

“When I came here, I was just received by a very welcoming and embracing family, whether in school or anywhere else I went,” said Khadour.

The school’s World of Difference Campaign allowed Khadour to escape the war-torn country.

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It’s an opportunity she won’t forget, she said.

“I wasn’t physically injured but I was mentally traumatized. What I have seen is very difficult, what I felt, what I went through is difficult. I was only 10 and overnight I just grew up and became an adult.”

Dr. Leanne Foster, the head of the school, played an integral part in bringing Khadour to Canada.

“She carried the weight of the world or the weight of a war on her shoulders and she was so determined to prove to us that she was worthy, we knew she was all along,” said Foster.

After graduating third in her class, Khadour is now looking forward to starting an integrated science program at York University in September but it comes with a hefty price tag.

“We can’t imagine her opportunities being stopped after grade 12 or because of a pandemic, she’s unable to go home, she’s unable to study anywhere else right now other than Canada,” said Foster.

In an attempt to keep Khadour’s education on track, Trafalgar Castle School has teamed up with The Spark of Hope Foundation in Toronto to help raise $40,000 to cover her education over the next four years.

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Right now, the charity says they’re in the early stages of securing funds for Khadour and that they mainly rely on private donors.

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“I can see her being a leader in the community, we’re hoping that she’s going to be a mentor for others as well and that’s what we look for in the scholars that we support,” said Narmin Ismail, the Spark of Hope Foundation founder and CEO.

While she’s passionate about getting an education, Khadour is thinking ahead and looking to use what she learns in Canada to give back.

“I want to help people using science, just want to use all of this knowledge I have acquired and all the experience and help people in war zones in area’s like I grew up in,” said Khadour.