Girl Who Came to Canada as an Immigrant Wrote a Touching Letter to a Young Refugee

December 15th 2015

A 12-year-old whose family immigrated to Canada from Iraq in 2010 wrote an insightful letter about the experience.

The project was part of a school assignment that required students to write to an imaginary Syrian refugee and was assigned several weeks before the first round of Syrian refugees entered Canada. The country plans to accept an estimated 25,000 refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria.

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"Welcome to your new home," Rand Amer wrote.

"As an immigrant, I know how it feels like to try to adjust to a new life with different people, a different language, and in a different country, far away from your homeland. Hopefully and surely, your fellow Canadians, along with their warm Tim Hortons coffee, can help you get used to the life in Hamilton in no time."

Rand offers advice to the imaginary refugee and describes the unique challenges of being new to a foreign country. Her letter also cautions that "a few people might not accept you, and find the concept of a refugee in their country strange and worrisome."

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As the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have contributed to a rise in Islamophobia in the Western world, some have wrongly argued that accepting refugees from Syria puts countries at risk of violent extremism. But Canada has been notably welcoming to refugees, with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau actively embracing the newcomers.

Rand added:

"Similar to my family, I know that you came to Canada to start a new life, to escape the warfare and conflict in your country. I can assure you that as you start fresh again, you will want to go back 'home' at times. Even though some of us (or mostly our parents) might have the feeling of regret from leaving our country behind and want to go back, we have to remember that there is nothing to go back to. We have to remember that these things happen in life just to make us stronger."

The letter comes as a reminder of the challenges that child refugees face while transitioning to new countries, and Rand also acknowledges the sacrifices that parents make in an effort to secure a better life.

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"I just wrote it based on my personal experiences," Rand told BuzzFeed Canada. "[D]ifferent people from different ethnic groups and cultures say that the letter relates to them."

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