Learning to Help – Youth BRIC Story

Learning to Help – Youth BRIC Story


I came to Canada in 2006 as a refugee family
with my sisters and mom. I was in grade 3. I clearly remember that I spoke very little English. A girl made
fun of the way I said something in English. However, when I tried to tell my teacher about it, I could not communicate
the problem and ended up crying loud. I felt very embarrassed and since then I lost a lot of
my self-esteem and sense of self-worth because I could not communicate my problems. Fast forward to now- I am a successful youth
doing excellent both academically and in the community as a young leader. I have worked with many of the
challenges and struggles that I faced by working hard at school and staying active in the community through
extra-curricular activities and volunteering. Now in grade 12 at my high school, PCI, I
am the president of the Tibetan Club, Eliminate Committee representative in Key Club, and a leader in
the organizing committee team for African Heritage Month. Because I take on a lot of leadership roles
in school, I often get to interact with the school office staff team on various duties such as dealing with event
proposals, club finances, and student outreach. An issue that came to the forefront to me through my personal
experience over the last few years was how I felt unwelcome in my own school. Whenever I have been to the office
alone, most times I was treated abruptly, without a smile. Many times, I wasn’t thanked for the outcomes
such as when submitting funds raised. I know this because whenever I go with my teacher supervisor,
the admins act very attentive and accessible. This difference is like a day and night. I believe that the reason
for this wrongful treatment is twofold, one for being a young person and two, my immigrant background, mainly that
I look or sound different. Thinking about this disturbing experience
as a student leader, I can only imagine how an immigrant youth who may be less successful than I and who has
trouble communicating in English are treated. I am happy for the fact that my experience as a young immigrant
interacting with staff and adults has sharpened my observation skills. I am able to advocate for myself and
others now that I am a good communicator. Sharing this as a BRIC story makes me proud to know that I am raising
awareness around this systemic issue which makes young immigrants question their self esteem early
on. Collectively and individually we can address this issue to help create a more welcoming space for both youth
and especially young immigrants in our communities. Thank you.

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