English classes, job hunting: Syrian brothers jump into new B.C. life
Published Thursday, January 14, 2016 3:27PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, January 14, 2016 3:30PM PST
They’ve wasted no time assimilating into life in Canada.
Yasin and Majd Alhomsi, Syrian brothers who reunited with their father at the Vancouver airport last month after 15 long years apart, say they feel like they woke up from a dream.
Yasin, 25, says the reality of their new surroundings began to hit home after their plane touched down on December 10.
“The first day, when we sit with my family here for the first time in a long time, it seemed unbelievable,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
Both men are already enrolled in English classes at Vancouver Community College and are committed to learning English as an important part of integration into Canadian culture. Speaking from their father’s home in Burnaby, where they will live, they’re also looking for jobs to show their new neighbors they will be productive members of society.
“After we see how Canadian people support us, and motivate us to success and to prove ourselves, we need to study and work at the same time,” said Yasin.
Yasin previously completed a business degree in Syria, and had been a manager at a logistics firm. Aside from witnessing the horrors of war, he’s also spent time in prison in Syria, punished for his father’s human rights activism while an independent Member of Parliament.
It took the family nearly five years for their father, Mohamad, to get the two brothers into Canada. The young men say they’re also getting to know their younger brother and sister, eight and four-years-old, who were born in Canada.
The brothers are already making new connections outside of the home. Majd, 22, has joined a soccer team, while Yasin said he’s thrilled to get to know students from other countries and backgrounds, through the vast multicultural mix in his classes.
"After one month, I have maybe seven friends, and I have a new family. For that, really -- it's fabulous,” he said.
The young men admit it will take while to get used to life in Canada, but they’re off to a promising start. They’ve taken classes in Western culture, which includes instruction on how to take public transit in Metro Vancouver, or even how to access healthcare. They add they’re overwhelmed by the willingness of the Canadian people to help them out.
“All people tell me, ‘tell us what you want, to give you good advice. Tell us if you want to study or want to work,’” said Yasin. “Canadian people are really great people.”
Majd agrees: “They support us. Everyone, actually.”
Most of all, Yasin says they’re getting used to the freedom to do whatever they want – and the chance to plan for a brighter future, admitting they have to pinch themselves they’re finally here.
“I cannot believe I can study, I can work,” he said.
Yasin said he will continue with studies in business. Majd hopes to pursue film studies someday.