Afghan immigrant studying in Vancouver wins Loran scholarship

posted on February 28, 2015

By David Geselbracht, Globe and Mail | Link to Article

By David Geselbracht, Globe and Mail | Link to Article

When Somaya Amiri was a little girl, she’d watch each morning as her big brother hoisted a backpack over his shoulders and walked to school in Afghanistan’s Behsood District. She remembers desperately wanting to go too.

The day she decided to follow him, her father noticed she was missing from the house and caught up with her at the school. He was furious.

“When I got home my mom and grandmother were crying,” Ms. Amiri said in an interview. “They told me that when you are a girl, you don’t go to school.”

Ms. Amiri now finds herself pondering which of Canada’s top universities she will attend.

This month, the 17-year-old was among 30 Canadian high school students named Loran scholars. Under the program, she will receive up to $100,000 to fund four years of tuition. The scholarship also includes a mentorship program and money for summer internships.

The scholarship program was founded in 1988 with a view to granting awards based not just on academic achievement, but also for leadership potential and for service. Ms. Amiri’s response to winning the award was disbelief.

“I was crying,” she said. “I could barely talk.”

Now in Grade 12 at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School in Vancouver, Ms. Amiri didn’t speak any English when she arrived to Canada with her family in 2011. On her first day of Grade 9, she needed someone to translate her communications with her teachers into Farsi, which is similar to her native language of Dari. She left her placement test completely blank except for the English alphabet, which she scribbled on a page.

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