39Reasons: Reason#25 Somaya

By Somaya Amiri - VSB Alumni, Loran Scholar, English Club Founder

"Without being able to communicate my little brother and I had one of the most fun days in our new country. This was the beginning of my journey getting to know Jennifer. She had helped me at every step of my high school journey, whether it was figuring out how to study, how to type, how to register myself or my siblings for swimming lesson, how to organize my calendar, or how to make new friends.

Jennifer started to invite me to after school programs with other youth where I could make new friends and practice speaking English. Slowly I was started to help out in events that she was organizing. One day when my friend and I told Jennifer about lack of spaces where youth can come together and practice English without having the fear of judgement from their native English speaker peers or the structured classes. Jennifer asked me why wouldn’t I start a program like that? And for a youth who was learning English myself this question seemed a little unbelievable. I wouldn’t be able to do this... what I admire about Jennifer is her belief in youth and in the change they can make in the community. I have been able to start the program and continue it during my high school and pass it on to other students. Jennifer helped me with getting the right facilitation training, asking the right questions to come up with a project plan, but also giving autonomy to run the program by ourselves, youth - youth support. This is only one story from many stories of support, encouragement, and empowerment that Jennifer provided to the youth around her. 

I believe in Jennifer because she truly cares about supporting youth to reach their success. She goes far beyond what her job responsibilities. She does it because she cares. She helped me with my family’s housing advice, my siblings sports activities, and so many other things that she did for me and my family because she cared about my success. She knew that my well-being is so intertwined with what my family is going through so she would become an advocate for my family and I in our journey as new comers in Canada.  When my family moved to another city and I moved to a new school outside of Vancouver school district, she came and visited me to ensure that I have the right supports around me.

It is important to have Jennifer at Vancouver School Board trustee not just because she has over 15 years of experience in the field, but because she truly cares about the well-being of the youth and their education. She understand the complexity of different youths’ experiences and she tries to tailor the support to them."

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