Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Multicultural Speakers Series - Part Two

L to R Liu Chen, David Stanley, Aden Ahmed
More Time Well-Spent

The second Multicultural Speakers Series was held at the Hornet's Rugby Clubhouse Wednesday evening which saw Liu Chen from China and Aden Ahmed from Somalia being interviewed by globe trotting author, David Stanley.

Anyone who thought that another evening in front of the idiot box was a good use of time have simply robbed themselves of a mind expanding, heart warming experience.

Hearing the life experiences of these new Canadians who are the newest members of our community makes you realize how much our city is enriched, simply by their presence.

 Aden Ahmed - Somalia

Aden Ahmed who calls himself a Somalian actually spent his youngest years living in a refugee camp in Kenya. His parents were killed when he was one year of age ( he thinks, but is not certain of his exact age), his two sisters aged 12 and 8 fled the country with Aden and were responsible for his upbringing in an environment that claims many lives. His oldest sister would collect firewood to sell and his yonger sister would wash clothes to make a little money to keep body and soul together.

Against the odds Aden was able to finish his secondary education, which he believes is the key to improving the lives of all Somalians. He was able to work for various government agencies and finally qualified for a scholarship which brought him to Canada. He intends to complete his accounting degree and sadly will be leaving the Island to work in Alberta. Aden intends to spend the first three years of his life improving himself and gaining strength but hopes to be able to help people with the rest of his life.

Conditions in a refugee camp are pretty much beyond the average Canadian's ability to comprehend but Aden did give a few examples of refugee life. The rations a family would receive had to last 15 days, but after 10 days they were depleted. He described the food cycle as the first five days were fine, the next five days were like the sun was going down, and the last five days there was simply nothing to eat. He says a child would spend the day at school, come home, have a glass of water, and go to bed. Standing in line for three hours to get a days drinking water was just the way it is.

While there is adequate medical supplies in the camps, there are no qualified medical people to administer the drugs with obvious negative consequence. Aden said he hoped everyone could spend just one day in a refugee camp.

Liu Chen - China

One of the most open and articulate people it has been my pleasure to listen to in a long, long time. Truly a refreshing break from so much of the superfluous chatter usually engaged in.

Liu gave an intimate insight into her 35 years starting with her home-life in a city of 10,000,000 being a girl born during the 'one child' mandate. Growing up with no sense of being loved or appreciated she survived many struggles as she finally pursued her passion to become a teacher so that she could help other young people with their life challenges. I will not attempt to repeat the personal details Liu shared of herself as I fear I could not do them justice.

Her journey led her to Australia and then Kenya, where she spent five years getting two Masters degrees along the way. I believe from there she came to Canada, and Nanaimo specifically last April. She currently teaches Mandarin part time at VIU and I believe has just been licensed in BC as a Clinical Counselor.

She said that the difference between the USA and Canada was explained to her this way: the USA is like a soup, contains many different ingredients but they all blend together. Canada is like a bowl of salad where you can see the differences, you can see the peas, the cheese, the lettuce, the carrots etc.

Liu said she is comfortable with being a part of that salad and is at ease identifying herself as a Chinese, and looks forward to the day she will identify herself as being a Canadian Chinese.

Both of these people were truly a delight to listen to and I believe Nanaimo is a much better place for having them as our new neighbours.

allvoices

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