Red Deerians are eager to hear from Syrian refugees and learn about their homeland judging from the crowd of about 75 who attended the Discover Syria event Thursday night at G. H. Dawe Community Centre.
Presented by Red Deer Public Library’s Adult Literacy Program, chairs were set up around five tables where Syrians spoke about their country’s culture, history, education, food and their own stories.
Alla Mysko, Adult Literacy Program manager, said the event was luckily able to expand into two activity rooms to accommodate more people than anticipated for the free event.
Mysko said she still had to turn people away, but with all the interest there could be another event held in the future.
Val Neilson said she wanted to attend to meet the newcomers to Red Deer and learn about their culture.
“I want to be inclusive of people that are coming from different countries. It’s just really important to me,” Neilson said.
“I’m really excited to listen to them.”
She said Canadians are lucky to born in a country where there’s no war. She couldn’t imagine the difficulties and horrors Syrian families have faced.
“They have to leave their own culture. They have to run for their lives. They have to come where it’s cold and where it’s different. Yes there’s opportunity, but you leave your families behind lots of times,” Neilson said.
Refugee Shihab Al-Nahar said he volunteered to talk about the cultural history of Syria because it sounded like a good way to introduce Canadians to Syria.
He said before the war, most people would not have known where Syria was located.
“Now when they hear about Syria it’s only the bad news, the war, the very horrible things. We thought it’s nice to show the nice side of Syria before the war, how it was,” said Al-Nahar who was one of about a dozen Syrians who participated in Discover Syria.