“None of us believed this would happen. We didn’t think we would ever graduate.”
That, says Humayun Mohammadi, sums up the feelings of he and his siblings, Zakiya, Farid, Fawzia and Marziya, as they graduated from the Adult Learning Program (ALP) - English as an Additional Language concentration (EAL) in June.
Born in Afghanistan, the Mohammadi family came to Halifax with their parents in 2012 as part of a federal government program. Having spent over a decade moving through and living in Iran and Azerbaijan, many of the siblings hadn’t had access to a consistent education in years. While they are talented tailors, as their parents were in Afghanistan, and the sisters are skilled and creative in beadwork, sewing and jewellery making, they wanted to expand their education.
“We really wanted to learn, and we were told Nova Scotia was a good place to pursue education,” says Fawzia. After developing language, math and science skills through Language Assessment Services of Nova Scotia and the Cunard Learning Centre, they were encouraged to consider NSCC.
“We saw people working and earning a good salary,” says Humayun. “I wanted to do that, and felt NSCC was that chance.”
This was my dream and my dream has come true.
The Mohammadi’s enrolled in the ALP-EAL programs at the College in 2015. In fact, they arrived as a group of six siblings, but their sister Raziya recently welcomed a baby to her family and will wait to graduate next year.
“It was really nice to study and learn together,” says Fawzia. Humayun agrees. “Individually, it would have been harder. Some of us were better at certain things, so we could help teach each other and succeed together.”
And they did succeed. Their parents and grandparents all encouraged them, and they recall it was their mother who kept reassuring them along the way that it would be possible to pursue education in Canada. And she was right. What they once thought impossible is now a reality.
The siblings are still amazed. “This was my dream and my dream has come true,” says Marziya. Farid echoes her excitement. “I see myself in this position, and I say ‘wow’.”
A passion for learning
The siblings are grateful that Canada and NSCC encouraged them to embrace their culture and learn about others, referencing the IT Campus' Spring Festival. The event gives students in the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and EAL programs the opportunity to share their cultures with staff and their fellow students through food, art, music, dance and displays.
“You see the many different cultures, and it’s very interesting to see how they live, what kind of food they eat, it’s more learning,” says Marziya.
And that’s a common theme amongst the siblings, a passion for education and continuous learning. In fact, they’re already planning for more.
Zakiya and Marziya are returning to NSCC for Dental Assisting – Level II in the fall. Fawzia will return to EAP to strengthen her English skills, with the hope of enrolling in the Civil Engineering Technology program. And Humayun and Farid are considering returning for additional education to pursue careers in civil engineering and IT programs, respectively.
The Mohammadi’s believe others can take inspiration from their journey.
Farid notes, “I tell my friends here, the key to your future is more education.” Humayun adds, “Don’t give up. It’s never too late. If you work hard, you’ll do it.”
Now that they have graduated from ALP, all five siblings will continue to pursue education to attain new skills and careers.