Jenny Chen (left) and veteran Kenneth Smith meet at Fraser Heights Secondary to reminisce about a summer enhancement program that saw the high school students interview seniors and write poetry about their lives. (Photo: Amy Reid)

‘Human Library’ social justice project was ‘eye opening’ for Surrey teens

Fraser Heights students interview Fleetwood seniors and write poetry about their lives as part of summer program

While a seniors home may be the last place you’d expect to find teenagers hanging out on summer break, some Fraser Heights Secondary students were happy to do just that as part of a new social justice course that recently wrapped up.

The four-week course, proposed and developed by teacher Ami Kambo, saw 16 Grade 9 students and three Grade 12 peer tutors visit with seniors at Fleetwood Villa as part of a project dubbed The Human Library: Connecting the Generations.

The teens interviewed the seniors, asking about their life and experiences, with a focus on social justice. They then returned to school to write poems about their new friends, which were presented during a follow up “tea and poetry” session at the high school.

The students said they were shocked as they listened to some of the seniors’ backgrounds – like hearing war stories from a decorated veteran and a senior recalling her upbringing as a preschooler in Glasgow as bombs dropped all around her.

Avi Sran, who is in Grade 10 this school year, said hearing about the injustice the seniors experienced was shocking, yet she found it interesting to hear how different life was for them.

“We didn’t experience 9/11 or any extreme tragedies or war,” Avi said. “Fraser Heights is very pocketed. It really opened my eyes because I never really noticed, I kind of kept to myself. I didn’t realize it would happen here, I feel like a lot of us don’t realize the sexism, the hate, the racism, it happens in every community, we need to notice it and not let it slide.”

Angela Luo, also now in Grade 10, said she learned what a big difference generations can make.

“There were so many other problems,” said Angela. “Sexism was a larger problem back then, for my partner. I think society, today, has progressed so much that women can kind of share their word, as opposed to back then when they couldn’t. I really learned from her that there’s a really big difference now and then. There’s so much you learn from being with someone who is more wise, or has been through so much more.”

Grade 10 student Jenny Chen said it was “eye-opening” to hear the different generational experiences.

Robin Dandiwal, also in Grade 10, said he appreciated the opportunity his generation has, compared to and in many ways thanks to the seniors.

“They had so much to worry about back then, they had war to worry about, and that’s something we don’t even think about now. I appreciate the privileges we have,” said Robin.

Reminiscing about the experience inside the school’s library recently, the students’ smiles were as wide as the seniors.

A particularly enthusiastic senior, Moira Solis, said she was “really, really impressed” by the students.

“I think our country’s in great hands for the next generation. I don’t worry about it now, but I used to worry about it,” she smiled. “It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

homelessphoto

(Above, from left to right, is Leslie Thorpe, Angela Luo, Dolores Wallin, Robin Dandiwal and Karin Kapus. On bottom is Moira Solis, Jenny Chen, Jean Smith, Avi Sran, Kenneth Smith and Victor Miller. Photo: Amy Reid)

Teacher Ami Kambo who spearheaded the summer program said she is thankful for the district’s support in launching it, noting it was free for students.

She described the teens who participated as “really special leaders,” who signed up “to learn more about the issues of social justice in the community and make a difference.”

Surrey school district’s principal of summer learning programs Daniel To stressed the importance of intergenerational learning.

“Being able to have that intergenerational connection keeps history alive,” said To, “as a former social studies and English teacher, and being able to remember the past, and remember all the great things that happened to allow the great freedoms we have today, and the sacrifices that these seniors contributed.”

“To be able to connect with the folks who pioneered the ability for different cultures and people to come here and live this way is phenomenal,” he added, noting it’s one thing to read a history book but another to interact with someone who lived it.

This Fraser Heights program is just one of many summer enhancement programs in the district, most of which do not count for credit. Project themes can vary wildly, such as a robotics program in North Surrey.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Amy on Twitter

Just Posted

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

Surrey White Rock Ringette Association ‘excited’ about world championships coming to Lower Mainland

Ringette Canada says the sport has reached record registration numbers

After nearly 100 years in the field, Cloverdale farm recognized for agricultural leadership

Surrey Board of Trade awards Heppell’s Potato Corp with leadership award

Surrey Fire Chief says ‘reverse engineering’ fatal OD victims will help tackle crisis

Partnership between Surrey and Stats Canada a ‘social demography or experiment, of peeling the layers off the onion to understand what the root causes are’

First look at Cloverdale Athletic Park’s future field house

Field house part of $5.8-million revitalization project

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

New chair of Metro Vancouver board is Burnaby councillor

The 40-person board is made up of elected officials from 21 cities and one First Nation

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Liberals to act quickly if Saturday midnight deal deadline breached: source

Oh Friday, Canadian Union of Postal Workers said it would not bring the latest offers to a vote of its members

Police probe several allegations of sex assault at Toronto school

Police say they have learned of other incidents of alleged assault and sexual assault

B.C. referendum ballot count jumps to 18% returned, Elections B.C. says

New count adds ballots received, but not screened for authenticity

Most Read