My name is Gebreslassie Fesha and I come from Ethiopia. I love my country even though we had some struggles. Ethiopia had excellent schooling and great jobs for men but not for women especially for single women. My parents had divorced, and my mother became single with no job, no income, and no hope. I did not want to see my mother struggling by herself, and chose to be with her.
When I was in Grade 5, we received our immigration papers stating that we were accepted to Canada. This made us feel extremely happy because we knew that we were going to have a better life after the hardship that the two of us were going through in our country. We arrived in Canada during the summer of 2010. The weather was hot, the place was nice, but what confused me was … the diversity of Canada. I thought we would be the only black family in the neighborhood, but the number of black people around made me feel like home. I felt like if I turned to the corner, my uncle would be waiting with a slipper in his hand.
Summer passed and once I started going to school I faced challenges from the beginning. I was new, did not know the schooling system and could not speak English. Some kids were not very welcoming but instead they were making fun of me, throwing snowballs and so on. At that time I felt so frustrated, isolated and alone. I was missing my school and my friends back home and was ready to quit school, but I had to think about my mother who was struggling so hard to provide us a better life here. I should not have felt weak and helpless, so I focused on school and language proficiency. My goal was to learn English as fast as I could. I started reading books, watching TV and talking to other immigrants who were learning English too. One year later I started speaking English and was ready to learn more about community, customs and culture. When I went to Woodroffe High School I felt welcomed. This was a place where I made a lot of friends and found understanding and support. Also, OCISO groups rendered not only a tremendous academic support at Homework Club but also helped with gaining social and life skills. Thank you very much.
Currently, I am very involved in community life through volunteering and participating in various activities. I love playing sports, especially basketball and soccer. I am also very thankful to my mom who has been doing her best to support, encourage and motivate me at every step of my life and been with me when I needed help.
I am very grateful for the Marion Dewar Scholarship that lightens my financial burden and allows me to focus on my study of social services work. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I want to help newcomers to overcome challenges and achieve their goals through providing customized services. I want immigrants to feel welcome and assure them that there are people who care for them. I was able to overcome challenges with the support of many people and now I feel ready to help new immigrants who will face many barriers upon arrival to their new home. We are all contributing to make Canada an inclusive country, and a contribution from each of us can change the life not only of one person, but the community as whole. Thank you.