Transcript: Syrian Refugees in Ontario Schools | Apr 28, 2016

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and pin-dotted blue tie. Behind him, a wall screen shows a picture of an empty classroom.

A caption on screen reads "Syrian refugees in Ontario schools."

Steve says LAST SEPTEMBER, THAT
DEVASTATING PHOTOGRAPH OF AYLAN
KURDI, A YOUNG BOY WHO DROWNED
FLEEING SYRIA WITH HIS FAMILY,
PROMPTED THOUSANDS OF CANADIANS
TO ACTION.
TODAY, WITH 10,000 SYRIAN
REFUGEES SETTLING INTO ONTARIO,
LOCAL SCHOOLS ARE WELCOMING
THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN WHOSE PAST
TRAUMA WOULD BE HARD FOR MOST
OF US TO IMAGINE.
JOINING US NOW TO FIND OUT HOW
IT'S ALL GOING SO FAR:
WE WELCOME:
KAREN FALCONER, EXECUTIVE
SUPERINTENDENT, CONTINUING AND
INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION, TORONTO
DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD;

Karen is in her sixties, with dark brown hair in a short bob. She's wearing a white blazer over a pink shirt.

Steve continues ROBERT DI PROSPERO, PRINCIPAL AT
THORNWOOD PUBLIC SCHOOL, IN THE
PEEL DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD;

Robert is in his late forties, with sparse white hair and a trimmed goatee. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit, blue shirt, and striped black tie.

Steve continues CARLA MARCHETTI, SENIOR
COORDINATOR, INTERNATIONAL
LANGUAGES AND PARENT AND
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT, WITH THE
TORONTO CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD;

Carla is in her fifties, with chin-length blond hair. She's wearing glasses, a bright blue blazer, and a black blouse.

Steve continues ZEINA ADRA, SCHOOL SETTLEMENT
RESPONSE WORKER, WITH THE PEEL
DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD;

Zeina is in her forties, with long wavy blond hair. She's wearing a black blazer.

Steve continues AND MULUGETA ABAI, EXECUTIVE
DIRECTOR, FOR THE CANADIAN
CENTRE FOR VICTIMS OF TORTURE.

Mulugueta is in his fifties, balding, with a gray moustache. He's wearing glasses, a gray sweater and a purple shirt.

Steve continues WE ARE DELIGHTED TO WELCOME ALL
OF YOU TO TVO TONIGHT FOR THIS
DISCUSSION.
I JUST WANT TO SET THE TABLE BY
PUTTING UP SOME NUMBERS HERE.
SHELDON, HELP ME OUT WITH THIS,
IF YOU WOULD.

A slate appears on screen, with a picture of a group of children playing in the desert and the title "Newcomers to our province."

Steve reads from the slate and says
MORE THAN 10,000 SYRIAN REFUGEES
HAVE BEEN WELCOMED TO ONTARIO
SINCE 2015.
HALF OF THEM ARE KIDS.
AND THE PROVINCE IS GOING TO
SPEND 10.5 MILLION dollars OVER TWO
YEARS TO SUPPORT THEM.
LET'S GET A LITTLE MORE
BACKGROUND IN PLACE BEFORE WE
HAVE OUR CONVERSATION.
WHAT ABOUT THE QUALITY OF THE
EDUCATION THAT THE SYRIAN KIDS
HAVE RECEIVED SO FAR?
HERE WE GO.

Another slate reads "Educational casualties of the Syrian civil war."

Steve reads
IN 2011, BEFORE THE WAR BEGAN,
91 percent OF PRIMARY-AGED CHILDREN IN
SYRIA WERE ENROLLED IN SCHOOL.
WHERE'S IT AT NOW?
WELL, BY 2013-14, PRIMARY
ENROLMENT IN SYRIA HAD FALLEN TO
38 percent.
IN THE SYRIAN CITY OF ALEPPO,
ONLY 6 percent OF PRIMARY CHILDREN
ATTEND SCHOOL.
IN THE REFUGEE CAMP IN JORDAN,
39 percent OF SCHOOL AGED SYRIAN
REFUGEE CHILDREN ARE NOT TAKING
ANY FORM OF EDUCATION.

The caption changes to "Rolling out the Welcome mat."

Steve continues KAREN, LET'S GET INTO THIS.
WE WANT TO LOOK AT THE INITIAL
INTAKE OF THESE REFUGEE STUDENTS
INTO OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM, THE
T.D.S.B., THE TORONTO CATHOLIC
SCHOOL BOARD AS WELL, TEAMING
UP, GIVING SYRIANS A TASTE OF
WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE A STUDENT
IN A CANADIAN SCHOOL.
SIMPLE QUESTION: HOW IS IT
GOING?

The caption changes to "Karen Falconer. Toronto District School Board."

Karen says IT WAS AN
EXCITING PROJECT.
AS MOST OF THESE STUDENTS HAVE
NOW MOVED INTO THEIR PERMANENT
HOMES, WE'RE WINDING THAT
PROJECT DOWN.
BUT IT WAS PARTICULARLY EXCITING
FOR US BECAUSE BOTH THE TORONTO
CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD
AND OURSELVES WERE DEEPLY
CONCERNED THAT WE HAD STUDENTS
LIVING IN HOTELS FOR WEEKS ON
END, NOT HAVING BEEN SCHOOLED
FOR YEARS.
WHY WERE WE WASTING THESE
PRECIOUS WEEKS?
SO DIRECTOR ANGELA GAUTHIER AND
DIRECTOR JOHN MALLOY GAVE US THE
GO-AHEAD TO GET STARTED ON A
PROGRAM THAT CARLA MARCHETTI AND
MYSELF AND MANY OTHER ENGAGED
PEOPLE SET ABOUT TAKING ALL THE
CHILDREN FROM FIVE DIFFERENT
HOTELS, PUTTING THEM IN OUR
EXISTING SCHOOLS, USING
CLASSROOMS THAT WERE AVAILABLE,
BRINGING IN SPECIALIZED
TEACHERS, OUR PARENTING FAMILY
AND LITERACY CENTRES, AND YOU
SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE EXCITEMENT
AS THESE KIDS RAN FOR THE SCHOOL
BUSES.
THE ANXIETY OF THE PARENTS
LETTING GO OF THEIR CHILDREN,
THE OLDER ONES, BECAUSE FROM
ZERO TO 5 YEARS OLD WE LET THEM
GO WITH THEIR PARENTS TO THE
PARENTING FAMILY AND LITERACY
CENTRES.
BUT THE ANXIETY OF THESE PARENTS
AS THEY WERE JUST LETTING GO OF
THEIR CHILDREN, EVEN THE OLDER
ONES, WAS REASSURED CONSIDERABLY
OVER THE ENSUING DAYS AND WEEKS
AND WE HAD MANY NEW REGISTRANTS
OVER THE FIRST COUPLE OF WEEKS.

Steve says LET'S GET CARLA'S
TAKE ON THIS.
YOU WERE INVOLVED IN THIS,
OBVIOUSLY.

Carla says IT WAS
EXCITING TO WORK WITH COMMUNITY
PARTNERS, TO WORK WITH TORONTO
DISTRICT, AND TO MOBILIZE ALL OF
OUR DEPARTMENTS IN ORDER TO MAKE
THIS PROGRAM POSSIBLE IN A VERY
COME PRESSED TIME.

Steve says ANY IDEA HOW MANY
KIDS ARE STILL IN HOTELS?

Karen says WE'RE DOWN
TO ALMOST NO KIDS IN HOTELS.
WE'VE BROUGHT IT DOWN TO ALMOST
NOTHING.
MOST OF THE KIDS HAVE LANDED IN
OUR SCHOOLS.
WE'VE HAD THE PLEASURE TO VISIT
THE KIDS AS THEY'VE TRANSITIONED
FROM THIS TEMPORARY PROGRAM THAT
WE SET UP TO GET THEM USED TO
SCHOOL AND THEY'VE MOVED INTO
THEIR MORE PERMANENT SCHOOLING.
I CAN'T TELL YOU THE JOY AND THE
REASSURANCE FOR THEM THAT
THEY'RE ACTUALLY IN A SCHOOL.

Steve says THIS IS INTERESTING
BECAUSE ONE WOULD ASSUME...
FORGIVE ME FOR PUTTING IT THIS
WAY -- BUT THERE HAS BEEN KNOWN
TO BE BUREAUCRACY IN THE
EDUCATION SECTOR IN THIS
PROVINCE, OKAY?
CAN I PUT IT THAT WAY?
AND THIS IS MAYBE AN EXAMPLE OF
WHERE THE BUREAUCRACY SORT OF
TOOK A BACK SEAT TO COMMON SENSE
IN GETTING KIDS GOING?

Karen says I THINK IT
REFLECTED THE WILL OF CANADIANS
AS A WHOLE.

Steve says THERE WE GO.

Karen says WE WERE
DETERMINED TO GREET THESE
NEWCOMERS IN WAY WE HAVE FRANKLY
GREETED THEM IN THE PAST.
IT WAS THE GOODWILL OF ALL THE
COMMUNITIES INVOLVED, THE
PARENTS, THE EXTRAORDINARY
AMOUNT OF GOODWILL BETWEEN THE
TEACHERS IN THE SCHOOL.
WE USED NEWCOMERS WHO WERE IN
THE SCHOOL ALREADY TO HELP ROLE
MODEL FOR THE OTHER KIDS COMING
IN.
SO IT WASN'T JUST ABOUT THE FEW,
IT WAS ABOUT THE MANY.

Steve says GOTCHA.
LET'S PUT SOME MORE INFORMATION
UP HERE BECAUSE WE WANT TO LOOK
AT THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN
REGISTERED AT THE RESPECTIVE
SCHOOL BOARDS THAT WE'VE BEEN
TALKING ABOUT.
AGAIN, SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD?

A new slate appears on screen, with the title "Newcomers to Ontario Schools."
It shows a chart with numbers.

Steve reads
NEWCOMERS TO ONTARIO SCHOOLS.
SINCE NOVEMBER, THE T.D.S.B.,
THAT'S TORONTO, HAS WELCOMED
NEARLY 500 SYRIAN STUDENTS TO
ITS SCHOOLS.
80 percent IN THE ELEMENTARY LEVEL.
20 percent TO THE SECONDARY LEVEL.
SINCE MARCH OF THIS YEAR, THE
CATHOLIC SCHOOL BOARD HAS
WELCOMED 225 STUDENTS.
ALMOST 80 percent ELEMENTARY.
A LITTLE OVER 20 percent SECONDARY.
SINCE JANUARY OF THIS YEAR, PEEL
REGION HAS REGISTERED MORE THAN
400 STUDENTS.
83 percent ELEMENTARY.
17 percent SECONDARY STUDENTS.
ZEINA, I WANT TO GET YOUR
EXPERTISE GOING HERE.
YOU'RE A SETTLEMENT WORKER.
YOU SPECIALIZE IN EDUCATION.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET THESE KIDS
ACCLIMATED TO A COMPLETELY
DIFFERENT SCHOOL SYSTEM IN.

The caption changes to "Zeina Adra. We welcome the world centre."
Then, it changes again to "Culture shock?"

Zeina says PEEL WE
WELCOMED THEM TO THE FAMILY
CENTRES WHERE THE PARENTS WOULD
COME BEFORE HEADING TO SCHOOLS.
AND OUR CENTRES, THE PROCESS IS
TWO PARTS.
WE HAVE THE SETTLEMENT PROCESS
AND THEN WE HAVE THE ASSESSMENT.
WE HAVE ASSESSORS WHO ARE
SITTING WITH THE CHILDREN AND
TRYING TO UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT
THEIR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND,
THE GAPS THAT MIGHT BE IN THEIR
EDUCATION, AND WE CONVEY THE
INFORMATION TO THE SCHOOLS AND
THAT WOULD HELP THE TEACHERS TO
BE MORE PREPARED FOR THE
STUDENTS WHEN THEY COME.
WHILE THE TEACHER IS ASSESSING
THE CHILDREN, SOME WORKERS,
MYSELF AND MY COLLEAGUES, WOULD
BE SITTING WITH THE FAMILIES AND
GIVING ORIENTATION ABOUT THE
EDUCATION SYSTEM IN ONTARIO IN
GENERAL, AND IF THE FAMILY HAS
ELEMENTARY, WE SPECIFY
ELEMENTARY, SECONDARY ALSO, WE
TALK A LOT ABOUT SECONDARY.
WE GO INTO DETAILS ABOUT THE
DAY-TO-DAY SCHOOLING SYSTEM,
ABOUT THE TINY DETAILS THAT
MAYBE THE OTHER PEOPLE WOULDN'T
THINK THAT THEY WOULD NEED TO
KNOW BUT ACTUALLY THEY DO NEED
TO HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING
OF THE SCHOOLING SYSTEM HERE.

Steve says WHERE ARE YOU FROM
ORIGINALLY?

Zeina says I AM FROM SYRIA.

Steve says SO YOU KNOW THIS
ISSUE COLD, RIGHT?

Zeina says I DO.

Steve says YOU WERE A PRODUCT
OF THE SYRIAN SCHOOL SYSTEM?

Zeina says YES, YES.
ALL MY SCHOOLING -- I'VE DONE
ALL MY SCHOOLING IN SYRIA.

Steve says WHAT CITY?

Zeina says HOMS.

Steve says HOMS.
YOU HAVE A PRETTY SOLID
UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THEY WOULD
HAVE LEARNED HAD THEY STAYED
THERE COMPARED TO WHAT THEY'RE
GOING TO LEARN HERE.
WHAT ARE YOU TEACHING NEWCOMERS
ABOUT GETTING AN EDUCATION HERE
THAT THEY WOULDN'T HAVE A CLUE
ABOUT OTHERWISE?

Zeina says ACTUALLY, BEING
FROM SYRIA AND GETTING MY
EDUCATION IN SYRIA, IT'S HELPED
ME A LOT TO FOCUS SPECIFICALLY
ON THE THINGS THAT I WOULD KNOW
THAT THEY WOULDN'T KNOW.
SO EVEN TAKING IN CONSIDERATION
THE DAY-TO-DAY LIKE, YOU KNOW,
IF THE CHILD IS -- YOU NEED TO
CALL THE SCHOOL AND REPORT
ABSENCE.
WE DON'T DO THIS IN SYRIA.
TALKING ABOUT THE BUS RIDE, THAT
YOU HAVE TO BE THERE FOR THE
CHILD WHEN THE BUS PICKS UP THE
CHILD OR BRINGS THEM BACK.
EVEN TALKING ABOUT THE DRILLS
THAT WE HAVE IN OUR SCHOOL WHICH
WE DON'T PRACTICE IN SYRIA.
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THAT
MOST OF THOSE CHILDREN MIGHT
HAVE WITNESSED TRAUMATIC EVENTS,
WE ALSO TALK ABOUT THE FIRE
DRILLS.
WE PREPARE THEM, BUT THIS IS NOT
A SCARY DRILL, THIS IS SOMETHING
THAT IS A REGULAR PRACTICE IN
OUR SCHOOLS.

Steve says THAT'S VERY INTERESTING.
AS CARLA MENTIONED, I GUESS WHEN
THEY START TO HEAR BELLS GO OR
BUZZERS GO, KIDS HERE THINK
NOTHING OF IT, OF COURSE.
BUT IF YOU COME FROM OVER THERE,
YOU NEED TO BE TOLD THAT THAT'S
NOT DANGEROUS.

Zeina says WE GO OVER THAT.
WE TELL THEM IT'S OKAY.
WE SPEAK ABOUT THE SAFETY
MEASURES IN OUR SCHOOLS WHICH
AGAIN WE DON'T HAVE IN SYRIA.
WHEN YOU GO AS A PARENT TO
VISIT, YOU HAVE TO GO TO THE
OFFICE, YOU HAVE TO WEAR A
BADGE.
YOU CANNOT JUST KIND OF WALK IN
THE SCHOOL.
YEAH, WE DEFINITELY COVER -- THE
ORIENTATION IS VERY, VERY
COMPREHENSIVE.

Steve says DO THEY GET THE HANG
OF IT?

Zeina says THEY DO.
WE ALWAYS TRY TO PROVIDE NOT
ONLY LINGUISTIC COMPETENT
SERVICE BUT ALSO CULTURALLY.
AS YOU MENTIONED, BEING FROM
SYRIA, IT'S ALWAYS HELPING ME TO
COVER THOSE BITS AND PIECES OF
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN OUR
ORIENTATION.
WE DO ONE-TO-ONE ORIENTATION AS
WELL AS WE DO THE GROUP
ORIENTATION FOR SYRIAN REFUGEES
AS A GROUP.

Steve says ROBERT, HOW MANY
STUDENTS DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR SCHOOL?

The caption changes to "Robert Di Prospero. Thornwood Public School."

Robert says WE ARE
CLOSING IN ON 70 STUDENTS.

Steve says WHAT IS IT LIKE WHEN
THEY SHOW UP?
WHAT DO THE OTHER KIDS DO?

Robert says THE
OTHER KIDS EMBRACE THEM WITH
OPEN ARMS.

Steve says SERIOUSLY?

Robert says ABSOLUTELY.
100 PERCENT.
THE MAJORITY OF STUDENTS IN OUR
SCHOOL COME FROM A DIFFERENT
PLACE, SPEAK A DIFFERENT
LANGUAGE AT HOME.
THEY HAVE THAT EMPATHY.

Steve says NO STRANGER ANXIETY?

Robert says NONE
WHATSOEVER.
IT'S A FEATHER IN YOUR CAP TO
HAVE MORE THAN ONE SYRIAN
STUDENT IN YOUR CLASSROOM.
IT'S ACTUALLY SOMETHING THAT THE
STUDENTS LOOK FORWARD TO AND THE
TEACHERS AS WELL.

Steve says AND YOU'RE K TO 5
ONLY?

Robert says WE'RE K
TO 5 ONLY.

Steve says WE UNDERSTAND HOW
THE CHILDREN WHO ARE ALREADY IN
YOUR SCHOOL ARE DEALING WITH
THIS.
HOW ABOUT THE NEW STUDENTS?

Robert says I WOULD
SAY THEY HAVE ACCLIMATIZED VERY
WELL.
WE HAD A LOCK-DOWN PROCEDURE AND
WITH SOME PRETEACHING THAT IS
DONE AT THE WE WELCOME THE WORLD
CENTRES, IT RAN LIKE A REGULAR
LOCK-DOWN PRACTICE PROCEDURE.
BUT IN TERMS OF EVERYDAY
LEARNING, THE STUDENTS...
HOPEFULLY WHAT WE TRY TO DO IS
PROVIDE THEM OPPORTUNITIES TO
CONTINUALLY SPEAK ARABIC, WORK
AND LEARN IN ARABIC, AND IN THE
SCHOOLS WE LET THE PARENTS KNOW
THAT ARABIC IS NOT ONLY WELCOME,
NOT ONLY ACCEPTED BUT WELCOME IN
THE SCHOOL.
WE ACTIVELY ARE TRYING TO
RECRUIT OUR PARENTS TO COME AND
TELL THEIR STORIES IN ARABIC.
I THINK AS A RESULT THE STUDENTS
HAVE REALLY ACCLIMATIZED REALLY
WELL.
ONE THING THAT'S ACTUALLY HELPED
IS THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS.
SO, FOR EXAMPLE, WE HAVE, LIKE I
SAID, 70 STUDENTS, AND WE WERE
ABLE TO CLUSTER STUDENTS IN
CLASSROOMS.
SO ONE OF THE CHALLENGES WE NEED
TO OVERCOME TYPICALLY IS
ISOLATION AND THE SILENCING OF
NEWCOMERS.
WHEN CHILDREN ARE TRYING TO
LEARN A NEW SYSTEM AND A NEW
LANGUAGE, THEY TEND TO NOT SPEAK
A LOT.
SO WE'RE FINDING THAT BECAUSE OF
THE LARGER NUMBER IN OUR SCHOOL,
IT'S HELPED US OVERCOME THAT
SENSE OF ISOLATION THAT THE
STUDENTS MIGHT HAVE.

Steve says THERE MAY BE AN
ASSUMPTION HERE THAT ALL OF
THESE NEW CHILDREN ARE MUSLIMS.
BUT WE HAVE SOMEBODY FROM THE
CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD
HERE.
I'M GOING TO GO OUT ON A LIMB
AND GUESS THEY'RE NOT ALL
MUSLIMS, RIGHT?

The caption changes to "Carla Marchetti. Toronto Catholic School Board."

Carla says THERE ARE
CHRISTIAN STUDENTS.
WE HAVE A LARGE CONTINGENT FROM
THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY.
THE T.D.S.B. POLICY IS THAT TO
REGISTER WITHIN OUR ELEMENTARY
SCHOOL, EITHER ONE OF THE
PARENTS OR THE CHILD HAS TO BE
BAPTIZED.
NOW, AS WE KNOW, THE SYRIAN
NEWCOMERS MAY NOT COME WITH THE
REQUIRED DOCUMENTS.
THEY MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH A
PARISH.
BUT WE DO NOT LET THE LACK OF
PAPERWORK IMPEDE THEIR
REGISTERING IN OUR SCHOOLS.
SO WE ARE WELCOMING THESE
STUDENTS AND THEN WE'RE WORKING
WITH THE FAMILIES IN ORDER TO
SECURE THE -- YOU KNOW, THE
DOCUMENTS.

Steve says I'M GOING TO PUSH
BACK A LITTLE BIT HERE BECAUSE I
CAN SEE PEOPLE WATCHING THIS
THINKING TO THEMSELVES: THIS ALL
SOUNDS A LITTLE BIT TOO GOOD TO
BE TRUE.
ARE YOU TELLING ME THERE'S NO
PUSH-BACK FROM PARENTS WHO ARE
CONCERNED ABOUT HAVING ANY OF
THESE KIDS IN CLASS WITH THEIR
KIDS?
ARE YOU TELLING ME EVERYBODY IS
JUST HUNKY DORY, YOU KNOW,
ACCLIMATING TO THEIR NEW
STUDENTS?

Robert says IN MY
SCHOOL THERE'S BEEN ZERO
PUSH-BACK.
SOME OF THE ENERGY YOU MENTIONED
WE FELT AS CANADIANS WAS REALLY
PRESENT WHEN WE STARTED TO
INTAKE THESE STUDENTS IN EARLY
FEBRUARY.
THERE WAS ONE DAY WHEN WE HAD 27
COME IN, ONE MONDAY MORNING WHEN
27 STUDENTS ENROLLED IN OUR
SCHOOL, WHICH WAS A RECORD FOR
OUR SCHOOL, AND IT REALLY JUST
INCREASED THE ENERGY LEVEL OF, I
KNOW THE ADMINISTRATION, THE
TEACHING STAFF, THE STUDENTS,
THE PARENTS.
IT FEELS LIKE WE'RE ALL IN IT
TOGETHER.

Karen says WE HAVE TO
BE HONEST THAT THE GOVERNMENT
HAS HELPED TO FUND SOME OF THE
INCREMENTAL COSTS ASSOCIATED
WITH HAVING LARGE NUMBERS COME IN.
SO WHILE, YES, WE REGULARLY
WELCOME NEWCOMERS, WE DON'T
REGULARLY WELCOME 20 A DAY, 20
NEW ONES A DAY.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS -- THE
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION HAS BEEN
EXTREMELY CLEAR THAT THEY ARE
WILLING TO FUND WHATEVER THE
COSTS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS
RATHER LARGE INFLUX.
SO, YES, WE REGULARLY GREET
LARGE NUMBERS.
BUT THE CLASS I WAS IN YESTERDAY
HAD HALF THE CLASS WAS FROM
SLOVAKIA AND HALF THE CLASS WAS
FROM SYRIA.
THIS WAS AN E.S.L. IN A HIGH
SCHOOL CLASS.
ONE CHILD FROM AFGHANISTAN AND
ANOTHER ONE FROM IRAQ.

Steve says HOW WELL ARE THEY
LEARNING ENGLISH?

Karen says THEY ARE
LEARNING ENGLISH SO WELL.
WHAT'S IMPRESSIVE IS THE
SUPPORTS AROUND THEM.
WE HAVE TO SAY IT'S BECAUSE THE
GOVERNMENT HAS AGREED TO FUND
THE EXTRAORDINARY NUMBERS COMING IN.
WE REGULARLY DO THIS.
YOU WOULD SEE PUSH-BACK FROM
PARENTS IN COMMUNITIES IF WE
WEREN'T ABLE TO FUND THE LARGE
NUMBERS COMING IN APPROPRIATELY.

Steve says I WANT TO...
MULUGETA, YOU ARE ALLOWED TO SPEAK ON THIS PROGRAM.

[Laughter]

Steve says I WANT TO GET A
BETTER SENSE OF WHAT THESE
CHILDREN HAVE EXPERIENCED BEFORE
THEY COME TO CANADA.
HOW MANY DO YOU THINK ARE
SUFFERING FROM POST TRAUMATIC
STRESS DISORDER?

The caption changes to "Mulugueta Abai. Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture."
Then, it changes again to "Lingering trauma."

Mulugeta says IN MY VIEW,
IT DEPENDS ON OUR EXPERIENCE.
I THINK ALL OF THEM.
I THINK IT'S THE DEGREE THAT
COULD BE DIFFERENT.
THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE
EXPERIENCED DIRECT TRAUMA.
THERE IS TRAUMA, WHAT WE CALL
INDIRECT TRAUMA, MEANING THAT
THEY HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED IT BUT
A FAMILY MEMBER HAS EXPERIENCED
IT.
THERE IS ALSO WHAT WE CALL FALL
TRAUMA, WHICH IS COLLECTIVE.
THAT'S WHAT WE SEE IN SYRIA,
BECAUSE INDISCRIMINATE
BOMBARDMENT AND HARASSMENT OF
PEOPLE.
THAT'S WHERE IT LIES.
IT DEPENDS ON HOW THEY HANDLE
THAT, HOW THE FAMILY IS INTACT.
THERE ARE A LOT OF FACTORS THAT
COME INTO PLAY WHEN DEALING WITH
TRAUMA.

Steve says DO YOU HAVE A SENSE
ABOUT WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THESE
CHILDREN MIGHT HAVE SEEN SOME OF
THE WORST HORRORS THAT WE HAVE
SEEN ON THE NEWS OVER THE YEARS?

Mulugeta says I CAN'T
REALLY ESTIMATE BASED ON OUR
PAST EXPERIENCE.
I THINK USUALLY CHILDREN ARE THE
SILENT VICTIMS BECAUSE OF WHAT
WE EXPLAINED.
MOST OF THE TIME THEY ARE IN THE
SCHOOL SYSTEM, THEY WANT TO FIT IN.
AND THEN AFTER SCHOOL, BECAUSE
THEY LEARN THE LANGUAGE VERY
QUICKLY, THEY ASSUME ADULT
RESPONSIBILITIES.
SO THEY DON'T SHOW UP -- UNLESS
THEY ARE REFERRED BY PEOPLE IN
THE SCHOOL SYSTEM THAT HAVE SEEN
CERTAIN SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS.
SO IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO TELL.
BUT THE MAJORITY OF THEM HAVE
SOME SORT OF.

Steve says WE HAVE A LIST WE
WANT TO SHARE WITH EVERYBODY OF
SYMPTOMS THAT MAY PRESENT
THEMSELVES IF A YOUNG STUDENT IS
SUFFERING FROM PTSD.
SHELDON, LET'S BRING THIS UP, IF WE CAN.

A new slate appears on screen, with the title "Signs of trouble."

Steve reads from the slate and says
THE STUDENT MIGHT SEEM LETHARGIC.
THEY MIGHT USE AND ABUSE SUBSTANCES.
THEY MIGHT BE RELUCTANT TO JOIN
SOME KIND OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
THEY MIGHT BE AGGRESSIVE, THROW
TANTRUMS, BE DEFIANT.
THEY MIGHT DISCUSS WAR OFTEN.
VIOLENCE CAN SHOW UP IN THEIR
DRAWINGS.
THEY MAY GET EASILY FRUSTRATED.
THIS ALL FROM THE WELCOMING
SYRIAN NEWCOMER STUDENTS AND
FAMILIES TO SCHOOL INFORMATION SHEET.
ROBERT, HAVE YOU SEEN ANY OF THIS?

Robert says ON A LARGE SCALE, NO.
IN SOME INSTANCES, YES.
WE HAD ONE LITTLE BOY WHO, ON
HIS FIRST DAY, LITTLE
KINDERGARTEN STUDENT, GRADE 5
BOY, WHO UP AND RAN OUT OF HIS
CLASSROOM AND WE WENT ON A
SEARCH FOR HIM AND SURE ENOUGH
ONE OF THE OTHER KINDERGARTEN
TEACHERS SAID MOHAMMED IS IN OUR
CLASSROOM.
I WENT IN AND HE HAD FOUND
ANOTHER BOY HE HAD EXPERIENCE
WITH AND HE WAS SITTING NEXT TO
HIM AND PLAYING LEGO AND I PUT
MY HAND ON HIS SHOULDER AND
SAID, MOHAMMED, YOU JUST FOUND A
NEW CLASSROOM.

Steve says SO YOU LEFT HIM THERE.

Robert says I LEFT HIM THERE.
THAT WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE
FIRST TIMES I'VE DONE SOMETHING
LIKE THAT.
WE DO SEE THAT KIND OF RELIANCE
ON ONE ANOTHER AND I THINK THAT
MIGHT BE PART OF HOW THEY
SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER IN TERMS OF
SOME OF THE THINGS THAT WE'RE SEEING.

Mulugeta says WE GET
REQUESTS FROM PRIVATE SPONSORS
PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY LEAVE
TOGETHER WITH THEIR SPONSORS OR
ARE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD.
THE PRIVATE SPONSORS USUALLY
RAISE SOME CONCERNS.
NOW, ONE, SEEKING SUPPORT FOR
THEMSELVES, BECAUSE THE SYRIANS
WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WHAT THEY
HAVE GONE THROUGH, WHICH IS
HEALTHY, IN A WAY, BUT AT THE
SAME TIME IT'S VERY DIFFICULT
FOR THE PERSON WHO IS LISTENING,
WHO IS HEARING THAT, WHO HAS
LIVED ALL THEIR LIFE A SHELTERED
LIFE.
SOMETIMES ALSO, BECAUSE THEY
LIVE IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH
PEOPLE WHO HAVE CHILDREN, THEY
RAISE ALSO THE PROBLEMS CHILDREN
ARE FACING, BED-WETTING, FOR
EXAMPLE, NIGHTMARES, SOME NOT
WANTING TO GO OUT AND PLAY WITH
THEIR FRIENDS, ISOLATION.
THOSE ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
THAT WE SEE.

Steve says ZEINA, AS WONDERFUL
AS CHILDREN CAN BE, THEY CAN
ALSO BE CRUEL AS HELL.
AND I WONDER WHETHER -- I MEAN,
HOW DOES A NEWCOMER WHO HAS BEEN
THROUGH A WAR ZONE OF SYRIA DEAL
WITH -- I'M NOT SAYING WE HAVE
EXAMPLES OF IT HERE, BUT
POTENTIALLY, THEY'RE GOING TO
HAVE TO DEAL WITH BULLYING,
TEASING, TAUNTING, MAYBE BEING
LEFT OUT OR EXCLUDED FROM
VARIOUS CLASS ACTIVITIES.
HOW ARE THEY GOING TO DEAL WITH
ALL THAT IN ADDITION TO ALL OF
WHAT THEY'VE ALREADY
EXPERIENCED?

Zeina says SO FAR WHAT
I'VE SEEN FROM THE CLIENTS THAT
HAVE COME TO OUR CENTRES, THERE
IS GREAT RESILIENCY.
IT'S AMAZING WHAT THEY'VE BEEN
THROUGH, BUT STILL, HOW
RESILIENT THEY ARE.
IT'S NOT JUST BECAUSE -- I THINK
NOT BECAUSE THEY'RE CHILDREN BUT
ALSO WHAT THEY'VE BEEN THROUGH,
BOTH THAT STRENGTH.
THE ASSUMPTION -- SOMETIMES WE
THINK WE GET THE ASSUMPTION
THEY'RE GOING TO BE WEAK,
THEY'RE GOING TO BE LACKING OF
STRENGTH, BUT NOT REALLY.
WHAT FROM I'VE SEEN, I DON'T
KNOW IF YOU AGREE WITH ME, BUT
FROM WHAT I'VE SEEN, I THINK
THEY'RE SHOWING GREAT STRENGTH,
THEY'RE SHOWING GREAT RESILIENCY
DEFINITELY MY FEELING ABOUT THIS
IS IT'S GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME,
AND THEN WHEN THEY SIT BACK AND
RELAX, THEY WILL HAVE SOME TIME
TO REFLECT AND THEN WE MIGHT BE
SEEING SOME OF THOSE SIGNS AND
SYMPTOMS AS YOU SHARED THAT
WE'RE NOT ABLE TO SEE NOW.

Steve says THIS MAY BE A
DELAYED REACTION.

Zeina says I THINK SO.
I THINK IT'S ALSO VERY IMPORTANT
FOR SETTLEMENT WORKERS WHO MEET
THE FAMILY AT THE FIRST STOP TO
HAVE A VERY GOOD KNOWLEDGE ABOUT
THESE SIGNS OF MENTAL HEALTH
ISSUES AND BEING ABLE TO
IDENTIFY.
I'VE ALREADY REFERRED MANY OF MY
CLIENTS AND WE HAVE A GREAT
PARTNERSHIP WITH YOU.
WE'RE ALSO ADAPTING OUR PROCESS
TO ACCOMMODATE THOSE CHILDREN.
WE'RE SEEING CHILDREN EXTREMELY
ATTACHED TO THEIR PARENTS, HAVE
ANXIETY OF SEPARATION.
USUALLY OUR PRACTICE IS WHEN THE
CHILDREN ARE BEING ASSESSED, THE
PARENTS DON'T SIT WITH THEM.
IN THOSE CASES WE'RE ADAPTING,
WE'RE CHANGING.
IT'S OKAY FOR THE PARENTS TO BE
IN THE ROOM IN THE CHILD NEEDS
THEM TO BE.
I THINK IT'S ALSO CREATING THAT
SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR THEM.

Karen says I AGREE.
AT THE HOTELS, WE HAD TO DEAL
WITH HAND-TO-HAND GIVING THE
CHILDREN TO THE ARABIC
INSTRUCTORS THAT WE HAD THERE
FROM OUR INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGES
PROGRAM, AND IN FACT, THE
TEACHERS, WHAT THEY SAID TO US
IS THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN AT
THE HOTEL TO ALSO MEET THE
PARENTS AND THE CHILDREN.
BECAUSE THE PHYSICAL
HAND-TO-HAND HANDING OFF INTO
THE SCHOOLS WAS EXTREMELY
IMPORTANT.
THEY KEPT THEIR JACKETS ON FOR
LONGER.
THEY TENDED TO TAKE -- THEY HAD
THEIR STUFF IN BAGS.
THEY TENDED TO HOLD THE BAGS
CLOSE TO THEM.
AND ONE OF OUR SCHOOLS,
UNFORTUNATELY, WAS ON SOMETHING
OF A FLIGHT PATH TO PEARSON
AIRPORT, AND SO SOME OF THE KIDS
IN THE CLASS ACTUALLY HAD
REACTIONS WHEN THEY WOULD HEAR
THE PLANE FLYING ABOVE.
SO THE TEACHERS WOULD WATCH
THOSE CHILDREN VERY CAREFULLY TO
REASSURE THEM THAT WASN'T A SIGN
OF DANGER.
SO THOSE WERE THE KINDS OF
PIECES.
BUT AGAIN, THOSE WERE WITH THE
VERY YOUNG CHILDREN.
WITH THE OLDER CHILDREN, WE
HAVEN'T HAD AS MUCH SHOWING YET.
I AGREE WITH ZEINA.

Mulugeta says I THINK ONE
THING WE NEED TO SAY ALSO, IT'S
TOO EARLY.
I THINK THE FIRST PEOPLE TO SHOW
UP FOR SUPPORT ARE THE PARENTS.
THEY WANT US TO SIMPLY HEAR
THEIR STORY.

Steve says THEY'RE SKEPTICAL, ARE THEY?

Mulugeta says YES.
THEY HAVE BEEN BETRAYED BY A
GOVERNMENT BEFORE THAT IS
SUPPOSED TO PROTECT THEM, THEIR
OWN GOVERNMENT, THEIR OWN PEOPLE.
WE HAVE A PARTNERSHIP, FOR
EXAMPLE, WITH WE WELCOME THE
WORLD, AND WE ARE ASSIGNED TO
STAFF MEMBERS INITIALLY TO SEE
ADULTS.
BUT ONCE THE ADULTS ESTABLISH A
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE
COUNSELLORS, THEY START TALKING
ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN.

Steve says SO IF YOU CAN
CONVINCE THE PARENTS, THE KIDS
WILL COME ALONG.

Mulugeta says EXACTLY.
THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT.

Zeina says I WANT TO ALSO
ADD IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND
THE STIGMA WE HAVE IN THE ARABIC
WORLD ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH
ISSUES, SO IT'S VERY, VERY
IMPORTANT, WHEN YOU EVEN -- WHEN
YOU WANT TO TELL THEM ABOUT THE
COUNSELLORS THAT WE HAVE, THEY
HAVE TO BE VERY CULTURALLY
SENSITIVE ABOUT THAT.
YOU HAVE TO PUT IT IN A WAY, IF
YOU'RE MENTALLY HEALTHY, THEN
PHYSICALLY YOU'RE HEALTHY.
IT'S VERY CHALLENGING TO COME
OVER THAT STIGMA ALSO.

Steve says HERE ARE SOME IDEAS HERE.
THIS IS FROM BRITISH COLUMBIA'S
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, DEALING
WITH ANXIETY IN REFUGEE STUDENTS.
AND HERE'S A BIT OF AS TO-DO LIST HERE.

Another slate appears on screen, with the title "Avoiding newcomer anxiety."

Steve reads from the slate and says
ASSIGN A BUDDY.
SOME OF THIS IS COMMON SENSE.
A CLASSMATE, OLDER STUDENT, TO
REACH REFUGEE STUDENT.
PROVIDE A MAP AND A TOUR OF THE
SCHOOL AND NEIGHBOURHOOD SO THEY
FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE.
PROVIDE A QUIET AREA FOR TIMES
WHEN THE STUDENT FEELS OVERWHELMED.
BE AWARE, WE TALKED ABOUT THIS
EARLIER, THAT THINGS SUCH AS
POLICE OFFICERS, BELLS AND
DRILLS, MARCHING FOOTSTEPS AND
AIRPLANES, UNFAMILIAR
CELEBRATIONS LIKE HALLOWEEN,
WITH MASKS OR FIRECRACKERS.
ALL OF THAT CAN TRIGGER FEAR OR
PAINFUL MEMORIES.
IT'S INTERESTING.
WE WOULDN'T EVEN THINK TWICE
ABOUT THIS STUFF.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN IN THE
SCHOOL SYSTEM FOR A LONG TIME.
CARLA, ARE THESE TECHNIQUES THAT
YOU HAVE ALREADY SEEN USED?

Carla says YES, YES.
SO WHAT WE HAVE IN OUR INTAKE IS
THAT WE ENSURE THAT THERE'S AN
INTERPRETER THERE FOR PARENTS TO
ASSURE THEM OF THE REQUIREMENTS
IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM.
WE HAVE TO BE VERY FLEXIBLE.
WE HAVE TO BE VERY SENSITIVE TO
THE NEEDS OF EACH FAMILY AS THEY
ARE PRESENTED TO US REGARDLESS
OF THEIR SPONSORSHIP.
AND SO FLEXIBILITY.
SOME STUDENTS, OR SOME CHILDREN,
DO EXPERIENCE SEPARATION
ANXIETY.
THEREFORE, IT HAS TO BE
FLEXIBLE.
MAYBE THEY CAN ONLY COME IN FOR
ONE HOUR AT A TIME INTO OUR
SCHOOL SYSTEM.
CERTAINLY IN THE SCHOOLS WHERE
WE'VE HAD PARENT AND FAMILY
LITERACY CENTRES, THAT HAS ALSO
BEEN A BRIDGE BECAUSE PARENT AND
FAMILY LITERACY CENTRES ARE SET
UP FOR CHILDREN FROM ZERO TO 6
YEARS OLD.
PARENTS GO WITH THE CHILDREN
INTO THE CENTRES.
THERE THERE'S A WEALTH OF
RESOURCES, LITERACY SERVICES IN
ARABIC, AND THEY ARE STAFFED BY
REGISTERED ECEs FOR THAT.
AND FOR THOSE YOUNGER CHILDREN
THAT WOULD BE OF JUNIOR, SENIOR
KINDERGARTEN AGES, IT PROVIDES
THEM A TRANSITION TIME TO GET
ACCLIMATIZED TO THE SCHOOL AND
THEN TO MOVE INTO JK AND SK.
THERE AGAIN, HAVING A POINT
PERSON FOR EACH STUDENT SO THAT
THEY UNDERSTAND THAT WHETHER
IT'S A GUIDANCE COUNSELLOR,
CHAPLAINCY, OR WHETHER IT'S THE
MAIN OFFICE, THAT WHEN WE INTAKE
THEM THAT FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF
WEEKS, YOU KNOW, THEY ARE
GREETED, THAT THERE IS A COMMON
PLACE WHERE THEY ARE WELCOMED
INTO THE SCHOOL IS VERY
IMPORTANT.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/current-affairs"

Mulugeta says I THINK IT'S
VERY IMPORTANT THAT WHATEVER
SERVICE WE PROVIDE, IT SHOULD BE
HOLISTIC.
IT SHOULD ADDRESS NOT ONLY THE
CHILDREN'S OR THE YOUTH'S
PROBLEM BUT ALSO THE FAMILY AS A
WHOLE.
WHAT WE ARE DEVELOPING NOW IS WE
HAVE MENTALLY CLASSES FOR THE
ACADEMICS, BUT ALSO WE'RE
ESTABLISHING RELATIONSHIPS.
WHAT ABOUT THE PARENTS?
MOST OF THE PARENTS HAVE ALSO
GONE THROUGH A LOT OF TRAUMATIC
EXPERIENCE.
THE NETWORK THEY HAVE CHERISHED
HAS COMPLETELY BEEN BROKEN.
SO WHAT WE ARE DOING, WE HAVE
GROUP -- WHAT WE CALL GROUP
PROGRAMS OR GROUP THERAPY THAT
BRINGS PEOPLE WHO ARE
KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT SYRIA, LIKE
ZEINA, TO TALK TO THE SYRIAN
WOMEN, FOR EXAMPLE.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME ALSO WE
HAVE A PERSON WHO IS
KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE WESTERN
STYLE OF DOING COUNSELLING OR
CRISIS INTERVENTION SO THAT THEY
CAN TAKE THE GOOD FROM BOTH
SIDES.
BECAUSE FOR SOME, OUR EXPERIENCE
HAS BEEN WHEN WE ORGANIZE WE ASK
THE PEOPLE THAT COME SEEKING OUR
SERVICES TO SEE A PSYCHIATRIST.
WHAT THEY TELL US IS, I AM NOT
CRAZY.
IT'S THE ONE DOING THE TORTURING
THAT IS CRAZY.
USUALLY WHAT THEY DO THEY GO TO
FAMILY, TO FAITH GROUPS, TO
FRIENDS IF THEY HAVE PROBLEMS.
BUT HERE IT IS DIFFERENT.
IT'S ALL RUSH-RUSH.

Steve says ZEINA, LET ME ASK
YOU THIS: GENERALLY SPEAKING,
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE BEFORE
SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN THROUGH
T.D.S.B. is just like any other
Kid in our school system?

Zeina says THERE'S GREAT, GREAT SUPPORT.
I THINK THE CHILDREN ARE WELL
TAKEN CARE OF IN OUR SCHOOLS
IT'S ALSO THAT THE PARENTS
ARE -- I WOULDN'T SAY FORGOTTEN,
BUT THEY'RE NOT IN THE PICTURE
ALL THE TIME.

Steve says THEY'RE NOT THE PRIORITY.

Zeina says WE'RE MORE
CONCERNED ABOUT THE CHILDREN, TO
SEND THEM TO SCHOOL, GET THEM
SETTLED IN THE SCHOOLS.
AND I BELIEVE PEEL DISTRICT
SCHOOL BOARD HAS GONE SO FAR IN
PROVIDING THAT GREAT SUPPORT IN
OUR SCHOOL.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE HOW
LONG DOES IT TAKE BEFORE THE
PARENTS FEEL LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE?

Zeina says IT DOES TAKE TIME.

Karen says I WOULD SAY
THAT ALL OF OUR BOARDS ARE
FUNDED IN FACT FOR ADULT ENGLISH
SECOND LANGUAGE PROGRAMS, BOTH
BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND BY
THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT.
WE HAVE ADULT E.S.L., ALL OF US,
AND WE REALLY WORK HARD AND WE
HAVE PARTNERSHIPS, ACTUALLY, TO
MAKE SURE THAT WE DO TAKE CARE
OF THE ADULTS.
SO WE TRY, AND CERTAINLY ALL OF
THE RESETTLEMENT AGENCIES HAVE
BEEN REALLY TRYING TO GET THE
PARENTS INTO THESE ADULT E.S.L.
PROGRAMS AS QUICKLY AS WE CAN SO
THAT WE HAVE SOME WAY OF BONDING
WITH THE PARENTS.
AND ALSO TO HELP THEM UNDERSTAND
A LITTLE BIT OF HOW WE WORK.
BECAUSE ONE OF THE CHALLENGES WE
FOUND, ACTUALLY, IN THE SCHOOLS
WAS MIXING GENDERS IN THE
CLASSROOMS, GETTING THE BOYS AND
THE GIRLS TO WORK TOGETHER
QUICKLY.
SO GETTING THE PARENTS TO
UNDERSTAND HOW THE SCHOOLS WORK
IS AS IMPORTANT AS GETTING THEM
TO UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE.
SO ALL OF THAT.

Steve says SINCE YOU MENTIONED
LANGUAGE, ROBERT, I WANT TO
FOLLOW UP WITH YOU.
WE'RE GOING TO SHOW THESE IMAGES NOW.
HERE ARE SOME PICTURES OF ONE OF
YOUR SYRIAN REFUGEE STUDENTS.
WE'RE GOING TO PUT THEM UP.
LOOK AT THE MONITORS IN THE room.
THIS IS SOME ARTWORK FROM A
YOUNG BOY NAMED NABIL, HE GOT
HERE IN MID-JANUARY.
ROBERT, OVER TO YOU.
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING AT?

A picture shows a sketchpad with a children's drawing and a few lines of printed text in English and in Arabic.

Robert says WHAT
THIS IS CALLED IS AN IDENTITY TEXT.
WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO IS
PROVIDE AN ACCESS POINTS FOR THE
STUDENT INTO THE CURRICULUM AND
INTO LEARNING LANGUAGES.
AN IDENTITY TEXT IS ANY ARTEFACT
THE STUDENT PRODUCES.
IN THIS CASE, IT'S A PIECE OF
WRITING BUT IT CAN BE A VIDEO,
IT CAN BE A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT
THINGS.

Steve says THE STUDENT DID THE
PICTURE.
THE TEXT UNDERNEATH OBVIOUSLY...

Another picture shows a different drawing.

Robert says THE
TEXT UNDERNEATH IS NABIL'S AND
THE REST IS WITH OTHER STUDENTS.
AS THEY PROGRESS THROUGH,
THEY'LL START WRITING IN ENGLISH
QUITE READILY.

Steve says WHAT IS THE VALUE OF DOING THAT?

The caption changes to "Learning the language."

Robert says THE
VALUE IN DOING THAT, FIRST OF
ALL, IT ALLOWS -- AN IDENTITY
TEXT ALLOWS A STUDENT TO SEE
THEMSELVES IN A POSITIVE LIGHT.
THEY SEE THEMSELVES AS SOMEBODY
WHO IS ABLE TO PRODUCE
PRODUCTIVELY IN THE CLASSROOM
SETTING.
SO I THINK THE UNDERLYING IDEA
IS THAT, YOU KNOW, THESE
STUDENTS COME WITH ASSETS.
WE LOOK AT THEM NOT AS DEFICITS
BUT AS WHAT THEY CAN BRING TO
OUR SCHOOL.
AND THE STUDENTS REALLY RESPOND
POSITIVELY TO THAT.
IT ALSO PUTS -- WE HAVE A DUAL
LANGUAGE SHOWCASE.
IT ACTUALLY SHOWCASES SOME OF
THIS LANGUAGE OUT TO THE ENTIRE
WORLD.
AGAIN, THAT HELPS THE STUDENT
SEE THEMSELVES IN A POSITIVE
LIGHT AND CONSTRUCT KNOWLEDGE IN
ENGLISH AND IN THEIR FIRST
LANGUAGE, WHICH THEY'RE
LEVERAGING TO CONTINUE TO
UNDERSTAND ENGLISH, TO REALLY
HELP THEM MOVE THROUGH THEIR
LINGUISTIC DEVELOPMENT.

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON
THAT WITH ZEINA.
OBVIOUSLY WE ASSUME THEY COME
HERE WITHOUT VERY MUCH ENGLISH AT ALL.
WE SAW THOSE NUMBERS EARLIER.
IF AS MANY AS THREE-QUARTERS OF
THEM HAVEN'T HAD ANY FORMAL
EDUCATION IN SYRIA EITHER, DO WE
HAVE TO ASSUME THAT THEIR ARABIC
ISN'T VERY GOOD EITHER?

Zeina says YES.
WE'RE DEFINITELY SEEING THIS.
WHAT WE'RE DOING IS THAT WE HAVE
INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGES PROGRAM
THAT RUNS ON SATURDAYS, AND ONE
OF THE LANGUAGES THAT WE TEACH
IS ARABIC.
SO WE ALSO GIVE THE OPTION TO
THE PARENTS THAT WHEN YOU'RE
SETTLED, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU'RE
MORE COMFORTABLE, THEN THIS IS
THE INFORMATION WE WOULD
DEFINITELY ENCOURAGE YOU TO PUT
THE KIDS IN THE ARABIC CLASSES
THAT WE RUN ON SATURDAYS.
IT'S VERY IMPORTANT.
WE ALSO SPEAK ABOUT HOW
IMPORTANT IT IS TO MAINTAIN BOTH LANGUAGES.
IT'S VERY IMPORTANT.
IT'S PART OF THEIR IDENTITY.
WE DON'T WANT THEM TO FORGET ARABIC.
SO WE'RE ACTUALLY GIVING THEM...
WE SPEAK ABOUT THE DUAL LANGUAGE
BOOKS TO READ STORIES BOTH IN
ARABIC AND ENGLISH.
WE HAVE SOME AVAILABLE IN OUR
SCHOOLS AND ALSO IN THE GENERAL
LIBRARIES.
SO, YES, WE'RE SEEING LOTS OF
THEM, THEY'RE ILLITERATE EVEN IN
ARABIC BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T HAD
SCHOOLING FOR THE PAST FOUR OR
FIVE YEARS.

Robert says ONE OF
THE MESSAGES THAT RESONATES WITH
PARENTS IS THAT WHEN WE SAY
STUDENTS SHOULD COME TO SCHOOL
AND ACQUIRE THINGS, NOT COME TO
SCHOOL AND LOSE THINGS.
SO IT'S IMPORTANT TO MAINTAIN
YOUR ARABIC LANGUAGE OR THE
LANGUAGES YOU HAVE.
SCHOOL SHOULD NEVER MAKE
STUDENTS LESS THAN WHAT THEY WERE.
IF YOU COME WITH TWO LANGUAGES,
HOPEFULLY YOU LEAVE WITH THREE
LANGUAGES.
AND THAT MESSAGE REALLY
RESONATES WITH PARENTS, AND I
THINK HELPS THEM TO UNDERSTAND
THAT THEIR LANGUAGE AND THEIR
EXPERIENCE IS WELCOME IN OUR SCHOOL.

Mulugeta says I THINK THAT
IS A VERY GOOD EXPRESSION
BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN LIVING IN
A CIRCLE OF SILENCE, UNABLE TO
EXPRESS THEMSELVES.
NOW, WHEN THEY DO THAT, WE ARE
SEEKING SOME SORT OF A CIRCLE OF
SUPPORT OR BECOMING AGENTS.
THEY ARE RELEASING WHAT WAS
INSIDE, WHAT THEY WANTED TO SAY,
WHO THEY ARE, WHICH IS VERY IMPORTANT.

Steve says THIS MAY ALSO BE THE
FIRST TIME IN THEIR LIVES THAT
THEY HAVE EVER PLAYED.

Mulugeta says THAT'S TRUE,
YES, YES.
IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT THEY
EXPRESS -- ART THERAPY IS AN
IMPORTANT TOOL FOR PEOPLE WHO
ARE NOT READY TO TALK ABOUT
THEIR OWN TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE.
IT ALLOWS THEM TO RELEASE THE
STEAM, AT LEAST, TO A CERTAIN
DEGREE.
TO COME TO THE LANGUAGE CLASSES
AS WELL, WE HAVE SEEN ABOUT 81
FAMILIES FROM SYRIA SINCE
DECEMBER.
WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO DO...
THESE ARE MOSTLY PRIVATELY
SPONSORED FAMILIES.
WE ARE TRYING TO ENCOURAGE THE
SPONSORS THEMSELVES TO DEVELOP
WHAT WE CALL SURVIVAL ENGLISH.

Steve says SURVIVAL ENGLISH.

Mulugeta says THERE ARE
FIVE PEOPLE SPONSORING A FAMILY
OF FOUR.
THEY TAKE TURNS AND IT'S A
CONVERSATION CIRCLE.
TEACH ME ARABIC.
I TEACH YOU ENGLISH.
NOW YOU ARE EMPOWERING THAT
PERSON, YOU KNOW, YOU ARE
TREATING THAT PERSON ON AN EQUAL
BASIS, BUT AT THE SAME TIME ALSO
YOU ARE SHOWING THEM THAT YOU
CARE.
WHICH WOULD BECOME LATER ON VERY
IMPORTANT WITH CONVERSATION WITH
THEIR CHILDREN.

Steve says CARLA?

Carla says PICKING UP
ON THE PARENT COMPONENT, WHAT
WE'VE DONE IS WE'VE HAD SYRIAN
NEWCOMER INFORMATION SESSIONS IN
THE EVENING FOR PARENTS.
WE'VE HAD PARTNERED WITH
COMMUNITIES AND OFFER PARENT
PROGRAMS ON SATURDAYS AT A
SCHOOL AND INVITED AND BUSSED IN
PARENTS FROM OTHER SCHOOLS FOR
THESE INFORMATION SESSIONS.
SO PARENTS KNOW WHERE THEY CAN
GET INFORMATION.
WHAT HAS SURFACED FROM THESE
INFORMATION SESSIONS IS THAT
PARENTS REALLY WANT TO KNOW HOW
THEY CAN SUPPORT LEARNING AT
HOME WHEN THEY DON'T SPEAK
ENGLISH.
SO AGAIN REASSURING THEM THAT
THEY ARE NOT -- THAT THEY CAN
READ TO THEIR CHILDREN IN
ARABIC, BECAUSE WE KNOW THROUGH
INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE
INSTRUCTION THAT THOSE LITERACY
SKILLS ARE DEFINITELY
TRANSFERABLE.
WE ALSO HAVE THE INTERNATIONAL
LANGUAGES PROGRAM IN THE AFTER
HOURS, AND WHAT WE'VE DONE,
WHICH WE HAVE NOT DONE
PREVIOUSLY, IS TO PROVIDE
PROGRAMS AT THE SAME CENTRES FOR
THE PARENTS SO THAT THEY CAN DO
INFORMATION SESSIONS, THEY CAN
GET WORKING ENGLISH, AND THEY
CAN ALSO DO NETWORKING AND THE
SOCIALIZING FOR THAT.

Steve says KAREN, DO WE HAVE
ADEQUATE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE WHO
CAN TEACH ARABIC IN THE SCHOOLS
TO KIDS WHO HAVE NOT HAD THE
LITERACY WHEN THEY COME OVER?

Karen says WE HAVE
32,000 STUDENTS IN THE TORONTO
DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD THAT ARE
CURRENTLY STUDYING INTERNATIONAL
LANGUAGES.
ONE OF THEM IS ARABIC.
LET ME TELL YOU, WE HAVE A LOT.
WHAT BOTH BOARDS DID AT THE
HOTELS IS THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE
WE USED IN THE HOTELS TO BOND
WITH THE FAMILIES, TO LET THEM
KNOW, TO BRING THEM INTO OUR
COMMUNITIES AND SCHOOLS.
SO WHEN THEY ATTEND THOSE
INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE CLASSES,
THEY ARE ALSO BONDING WITH THE
OTHER PARENTS WHO ARE BRINGING
THEIR KIDS TO THOSE
INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGES CLASSES.
WE CERTAINLY I THINK ON BOTH
COUNTS, ON ALL BOARDS' COUNTS,
HAVE ENOUGH INSTRUCTORS.
WHAT WE REALLY WANT TO UNDERLINE
IS IT'S INTERESTING TO JUST
WATCH CHILDREN PLAY.
WHEN YOU WATCH THEM PLAY,
WHETHER IT'S IN THE
INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGES PROGRAM
OR AT SCHOOL, I'M TELLING YOU,
IN THE HOTEL WE WERE TRYING TO
PLAN, BOTH BOARDS TOGETHER, HOW
WE WERE GOING TO BE MANAGING
THIS SCHOOLING ON A TEMPORARY
BASIS.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HALF OF THE
PEOPLE WERE DOING, PLAYING
SOCCER IN THE HALLWAYS, WHICH
THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN.
CHILDREN FIND WAYS TO PLAY.
I AGREE WITH EVERYONE, THE
RESILIENCE OF THESE KIDS.
YOU KNOW WHAT THEIR FAVOURITE
MOMENT WAS IN THE TEMPORARY
SCHOOLING?
SINGING O CANADA.
STANDING UP AND SINGING O CANADA
WITH THE SCHOOLS.
THEY WANT TO BE A PART OF OUR
SCHOOLING EXPERIENCE.
I THINK THE EFFORTS OF THE
PEOPLE AROUND THE TABLE AND THE
COMMUNITY AT LARGE SPEAKS TO
THAT.

Robert says IF I
CAN ADD, I DON'T THINK WE'LL
EVER HAVE ENOUGH TEACHERS THAT
CAN TEACH ARABIC EXPLICITLY.
IT BECOMES INCUMBENT ON SCHOOLS
TO THINK ABOUT LINGUISTICALLY
APPROPRIATE PRACTICE AND
CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE PRACTICE
THAT SUPPORTS LANGUAGE
DEVELOPMENT IN THE FIRST
LANGUAGE AND SECOND LANGUAGES.

Steve says YOU PULL OLDER KIDS
OUT OF THE HIGHER GRADES IN
ORDER TO HELP THE LITTLE KIDS?

Robert says ABSOLUTELY WE DO.
AND HELP TO COMMUNICATE WITH PARENTS.
I HAVE A LITTLE BOY -- HE'S NOT
SO LITTLE, A GRADE 5 BOY WHO IS
MY MAIN TRANSLATOR IN TIMES OF
NEED.
BUT I THINK IT'S INCUMBENT UPON
THE SCHOOLS TO REALLY THINK
ABOUT A WHOLE SCHOOL APPROACH.
YOU TALKED EARLIER ABOUT A WHOLE
STUDENT APPROACH.
IT'S REALLY A WHOLE SCHOOL
APPROACH IN MY EYES IN TERMS OF
SERVICING AND REALLY PROVIDING
AN ENVIRONMENT FOR THESE
STUDENTS TO EXCEL AND SEE
THEMSELVES IN A REAL POSITIVE
LIGHT.

Steve says I HOPE THAT STUDENT
YOU JUST REFERRED TO IS GETTING
EXTRA CREDITS FOR BEING THE
TRANSLATOR...

Robert says STRAIGHT As.

Steve says THERE YOU GO.
IN OUR LAST MINUTE HERE, WHAT
CAN WE DO BETTER?

The caption changes to "Stress and strains."

Zeina says I THINK WE'RE
ALREADY DOING -- I'M SURE YOU
WOULD AGREE WITH ME, A GOOD JOB.
AS YOU MENTIONED, THE GREAT
COLLABORATION AMONG THE SERVICE
PROVIDERS, IT'S BEEN AMAZING.
IT'S BEEN A GREAT EXPERIENCE SO FAR.
WHAT IS REALLY SURPRISING ME,
AND BEING FROM SYRIA, IT'S KIND
OF BOTH WAYS, IT'S VERY
REWARDING TO ME TO SERVE THOSE
FAMILIES, BUT ALSO IT'S VERY
CHALLENGING SOMETIMES TO
DISCONNECT MYSELF EMOTIONALLY
FROM WHAT I HEAR AND WHAT I
LISTEN.
BUT I THINK I'M TAKING PRIDE OF
BEING CANADIAN AND SYRIAN AT THE
SAME TIME BECAUSE I'VE SEEN THIS
OVERWHELMING RESPONSE TO THE
SYRIAN INFLUX.
IT'S BEEN GREAT.
I THINK WE CAN JUST COUNT MORE
ON THE PARTNERSHIP AND THE
COLLABORATION AMONG THE SERVICE
PROVIDERS.

Steve says LET'S LEARN A FEW
WORDS OF ARABIC BEFORE WE LEAVE TODAY.
Is it salaam alaikum? Is that what we say?

Zeina smiles and says salaam alaikum. Marhaba.

Steve says WHICH MEANS...

Zeina says HELLO.

Steve repeats the word and then says AND HOW ABOUT GOOD-BYE?

Zeina says BYE.

Everybody laughs.

Steve says SALAM.
THERE WE GO. I LEARNED A LITTLE
BIT MORE ARABIC TODAY.
THAT'S GOOD.
CIAO WORKS EVERYWHERE IN THE
WORLD, DOESN'T IT?

Zeina says Yes!

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman"

Steve says IT'S GOOD OF ALL OF YOU TO COME
INTO TVO AND HELP US OUT WITH THIS.
THANKS SO MUCH TO EVERYBODY.

Mulugueta says THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

Watch: Syrian Refugees in Ontario Schools