By Deanna Cook
I am blessed. I am blessed to work with teenagers; I sometimes have to tell myself that this is a blessing. My job description has just changed- I am “officially” taking over the career and guidance counselling at my school. I have been unofficially doing a lot of the work, but now I get office hours to do it. I love the opportunity. I get to help my kids plan for their future with working on resumes, scholarships, and post-secondary applications.
Looking back on Saturday morning, this last week was a good week. The Tuesday grad meeting was a success, Wednesday and Thursday’s basketball games resulted in wins, and this weekend’s basketball tournament was injury-free. One of the grade twelves got her official acceptance to the university and one of my grade elevens just received an invitation to try out for the provincial boxing team. Meeting with an education consultant on Thursday, our kids got a glowing compliment about their behaviour at the recent career spotlight last month. Those events are all blessings.
But it would be easy to ignore those blessings when you see some of the ugliness that others are facing. One of our kids just lost a cousin to suicide, another is battling mental health issues, and a third is having struggles within her family dynamics. Those times are heart-breaking as you cannot carry the kids’ burdens. But it is a time to be empathetic, giving grace with alternate assignments, second (and third…fourth… and fifth) opportunities, or just quietly listening to their stories. And it is in these times, I can see my many blessings I have been given in my life.
And as I watch the news, I can see even more blessings I have. As the week comes to a close, one hundred Syrian refugees have just arrived at the Regina airport. These refugees remind me of some other immigrants I have known.
A childhood neighbour- an Iranian refugee family who arrived in Canada in the late 1980’s. Their family was different from the majority of Weyburn’s citizens: ethnically and religiously. Looking back, I can’t imagine the culture shock they must have experienced fleeing from a war-torn city in the Middle East to a snowy town on the prairies. But from my child’s perspective, they were not really different from the rest of the neighbourhood, except for the hijab worn by the mother.
A Friendspeak partner, again from Iran, became a dear friend. She came to curling bonspiels and Agribition; I was invited to her home to share halal meals. While she would ask me many questions about Canadian culture, I could ask her many questions about her faith. This time from an adult’s perspective, I could see her dreams and goals were so similar to my own.
A former Sierra Leon student sharing his testimony: his story of experiencing a parent murdered, of living alone in a refugee camp, and of being reunited years later with the rest of his family. As he shared his story, it was the quietest chapel ever; we, as an audience, could not comprehend the nightmare he lived. There were so many doors of opportunity that were opened for him, that would not have been presented without the kindness of strangers. Because of many good Samaritans, he will be graduating from university this spring.
Finally, a current student shared her “show and tell” presentation in class this semester. The objective of the presentation is for each grade eleven student to share an object from their childhood and explain its importance. She brought the certificate her family received when they became Canadian citizens. She reminded us the many privileges we have here, especially freedom. It’s a blessing that I can take for granted.
These four individuals are all important chapters in my story: they have all enriched and blessed my life. Perhaps one of these Syrian refugees will be another chapter and another blessing.