Tuesday, 1 December 2015

How joyful to be able to welcome Syrian refugee children!


I am shocked with the opinions of some small-minded people in Canada, and our region. Having grown up in multicultural Toronto, and worked in multicultural Ottawa, I have had much experience working with kids of diverse needs and backgrounds. This fear and racism is shameful.
Teachers are professing fear, as well. There is little difference between children whose life circumstances have caused them grief, whether Canadian citizens or not.

We have integrated refugee children for many years. There is no reason a kid who cannot understand English should NOT be integrated. I think that administrators need to ask them, what do you need?

Best practices, sustainable plans, integrated services, make a difference.
Teachers do not choose their students. They are assigned a group of children and must create a classroom community from these individuals from varied backgrounds and experiences every school year.

Over my 25-year career (spanning JK to gr. 8), I have sheltered children who were victims of violence, who lived in foster care and/or group homes, who fled Vietnam, children with mental, physical or emotional disabilities, children who ran into the hills to flee gunfire during The Gulf War, children whose mothers were drug addicts and were in the custody of fathers, children whose uncles were suicide bombers 'defending our people' as they said, there is no difference.

I had an opportunity to learn from children whose religion, culture and traditions were different from my own. It enriched my life.
  • You take them in, welcome them, accept them and assure them that they are safe now. 
  • You listen. 
  • You fight for their right to feel safe in the classroom community, in the school and in the larger community. 
  • You advocate for them. 
  •  You protect them from racism and/or bullying in your classroom community, and teach them how to handle such. 
  • You educate them on life in Canada; sometimes this includes their parents. 
  • You give them the tools to cope in their new world. 
  • You help them integrate into the school by appointing mentors. 
  •  You learn about their culture and traditions to better understand them. 
  • You help them find their joy. 
  •  You help them laugh and feel loved.
These children bring a wealth of experience to Canada. They are survivors. They are to be loved, not feared.

8 comments:

Out To Pasture said...

Exactly so, Jennifer. We are all fellow creatures who thrive when given a friendly helping hand.

William Kendall said...

Well said.

You look at every refugee group that's come before- the same fears, xenophobia from some quarters, and yet those newcomers have in fact enriched our society.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari om
Perfectly put Jenn! YAM xx

Powell River Books said...

When I was teaching, we had Vietnamese children come to our school after fleeing their homeland when the Americans left. I had a boy in my class. He was so traumatized by bombings and gunfire that he would jump and hide at loud noises. It took a long time for him to learn that he was safe in school. It was amazing how quick he learned English and started to excel (he was in grade one). - Margy

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Thank you Jenn for all you have done and for expressing the truth so beautifully! I am so upset with what's happening in our country with the Republican Party and the small minded people ... I can hardly stand it. I

Karen said...

Well said Jen. My first husband lived at a Mission in Nigeria during the Biafran conflict. They sheltered children and others at their school. I grew up watching the Vietnam conflict in living color every night at 6PM. That said, I don't know how so many people that I know and love can have such terrible attitudes.

Olga Hebert said...

Thank you, Jen, for this thoughtful post. The reactions (and the attention they get)of some of our presidential wannabes here in the U.S. saddens me so much.

EG CameraGirl said...

Sadly tooo many have forgotten how successful other refugee programs have been.