Mohamad Abed Alfattah is 19 and has been a student in the CultureWorks ESL program for five months. He is in Level 6 and is slated to graduate in June.
His home is Jordan and his family lives in the country’s capital, Amman. He is the fifth child in a family of eight.
As personable a student as you will find, it had been less than a week after the horrific massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“I am a Muslim person and I am proud of this religion because it is a piece of my identity and personality,” Mohamad said in the CultureWorks office. “What happened in New Zealand is really a sad thing in that country, that great country.”
Mohamad was talking about this news because it was the story of the day, the week, the year. Like the world over, he was shocked.
He made his usual Friday trek to his mosque in London, Ontario, the day of the shooting. Obviously, it was different than the usual Fridays.
“In the Friday prayer, they were talking about this,” Mohamad said. “Actually, it was a lot of people came to the mosque and security people as well. It was really sad; it was a very bad thing. We can see there was no connection here between terrorism and Islam.”
Horrific news from far, far away can be difficult to handle for international students. For Mohamad, the mosque and CultureWorks are always available for his own personal peacekeeping.
Mohamad talks about his experiences in Canada and with CultureWorks
Mohamad said he is cognizant of the fact CultureWorks teachers and staff are close by when any problem – small or large — arises for students.
“The teachers are helpful. When I ask someone in CultureWorks they will help me; they will answer me; they help solve the problems. And they have time to listen to me and they respect me.
“If I want something personal, I can go to Liz (Macedo), so I can ask her about something, she will help me.”
CultureWorks Founder and President Tina Bax said she is thrilled to hear that.
“That makes me feel good. That means we are doing something right, and hopefully a lot of things doing right so that they feel tied to us and we can see that when they come back for alumni events,” Tina said.
Tina said it is important to have experienced staff available.
“When I go abroad and have frustrating experiences … I want someone to not necessarily parent me because then I really don’t learn how to deal with the next time and it will happen. I am looking for somebody to teach me ‘here is how you can overcome this problem’.”
Meanwhile, Mohamad is more than happy he chose our ESL school and Canada to be his new home.
“First of all, I decided after my high school to come here because I actually want to build my future by myself. I don’t want my father just to help me and give me money and go ahead in a new country,” Mohamad said.
“My father asked me if I wanted to go to U.S.A. or Canada or Germany. I chose Canada and I talked with my teacher. He is my friend and still is my friend. He told me to go to Canada. ‘That’s what would be good for you. It’s a great country’.”
Staying in Canada after completing ESL school
Mohamad finds London a “beautiful city,” albeit a small city. He doesn’t plan to leave.
“It is really beautiful to see all these cultures (in London) together, helping each other, and living in peace,” he said. “They respect each other. That’s what I want, to respect other people and other people respect you. That’s really a nice thing.”
Tina understands Mohamad’s decision to make London his final home.
“I think when you go abroad and have an experience when you are living abroad — especially when it’s your first time abroad or when you going abroad for the first time to learn a language, put down roots, being away from your family — you really end up being tied to the first school that you land on whether it be a university or a high school or in this case, a language school, because we are the stepping stone to that education that they eventually want to have at college or university.
Meanwhile, Mohamad confirms that one major decision.
“I don’t think about (leaving). I am staying here,” he said, quite clearly.
“I am not just talking about university; I am not just thinking about studying … I am talking about an opportunity, my future, about people who can respect you, people who can help you.”
Or as he sums up his way of living …
“Help all people, and all people will help you. If you do best for me, I will do the best for you.”
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