• Sue Warren

Fitting in or Standing out?

The following is an essay that Mohammed wrote for his Grade 12 English class - enjoy the glimpse of his life that he shares.

"How would you like to go to a new country without knowing the language? You don't know anyone, you don’t know the rules, you don’t know what can happen to you or where you can end up with all the new things going around you. How would you like to start a new life?

Being different is not my choice. Nobody asked me if I wanted to leave my homeland and become a refugee. Nobody asked me if I wanted to learn a new culture and a new language to try to fit in and be like you. I know I could never totally fit in here in this new place because of my different religion, culture and skin colour. Sometimes I wish I could be born in one country and be able to stay in my homeland with my family and friends.

My life has been a series of making new friends and leaving them behind when my family moves again. I have lots of good memories with special people I met, but after a while, I had to say goodbye to be able to begin my new life in Canada.

My brain is always firing on all cylinders: I speak Arabic at home, Turkish to my middle school friends on social media, and English to my teachers, coworkers and friends at school. I always have to focus on which words to use, which tense I need and I don’t want to confuse anyone. It’s an ongoing struggle.

For example, say, I’m out with friends, having a good time, laughing and joking around, and then someone says something I don’t understand. All of a sudden, I don’t know what to do or how to respond. I don't want to feel stupid. Just when I thought I was fitting in with my friends, I suddenly find myself standing outside the group.

I realize that fitting in or standing out is less important than being who I am. My family moved to Canada for a better life away from war. I have a lot of things to learn about being Canadian, and I will learn them. All of my different experiences have made me who I am and I am proud of that. "

Mohammad Alouch

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