Sunday, 15 January 2012

Off Topic for Today

I recognize that writing a blog on only one topic will get boring for everybody but me, so.....

I think most of my staff understands that I can be an emotional guy.  I appreciate things I see at school in ways that many of the students and staff may not.  For example, I had to leave a soccer game a couple years ago because, as I was watching the students play, I understood that our team was made up of students from countries that were currently fighting each other, but it made absolutely no difference to them at that moment.  Not only that, but the experience of playing together would almost certainly cement friendships that made those far away conflicts even more remote.  The reality of those ideas struck me so hard that I choked up, my eyes filled with tears, and I actually found it difficult to breathe.

I don't think most people in my school board really appreciate what a miracle our school is, and what happens every single day at Forster.  We have students from over sixty different countries in our building, and we have no problems of a diversity related nature.

Daily, I see this as a miracle.

It's not that we don't have the same problems as every other High School.  We do.
It's just that I often read about issues related to racism, even in my own community, and sometimes at other schools in the city, but I can honestly say that those issues do not make themselves apparent at our school.

In fact, almost all our students and certainly all our staff understand that diversity is both our greatest strength and the true nature of our school.

Just this past week, one of my teachers, and I hope she won't mind me mentioning her name, Jan Nickleson, sent me an e-mail notifying me that a ceasefire was being negotiated in Myanmar (Burma).  A little research enlightened me that fighting had been going on there for sixty-two years!  The students we have from this area have lived in refugee camps their entire lives.  They've never actually seen the country they call home.
Jan asked permission, and then contacted our local radio and TV station.

A reporter arrived, and interviewed our newcomer students, many only in Canada for the last five months - not as refugees, or newcomers, or people having difficulty fitting in to a new country, or people learning a new and difficult language - but as experts, who were personally impacted by the news of the day.

I hope you can appreciate how huge this was for those students, and why Jan Nickleson, though wonderfully eloquent on camera, got choked up as she was interviewed.

....And why I have tears in my eyes as I write this.


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