This year at the TESL ON conference, Asmaa Cober, Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre, will be one of our Keynote Speakers. The following blog post was written by Asmaa. Here she gives you a synopsis of her keynote address:
Learning never happens in a vacuum — people bring all of their experiences with them to the classroom. Newcomers (and refugees in particular) have a life history — experiences that greatly affect their ability to learn. We will explore some of the types of experiences that refugees bring with them to the classroom. These experiences may create barriers to learning, but they may also provide opportunities to reveal resilience and liberation.
My hope is that in discussing these issues, we will also reconsider the role of the ESL teacher. Language fluency is an important foundation for newcomer success in this country. In fact, it may be a key indicator of our success as a country. You have a key role to play! I want to explore the possibilities of this role, with a focus on relationship and enabling resilience.
As a teacher, what can you do to make that experience a positive stepping stone to life in Canada? How can you become a positive part of a refugee’s journey? What do you need to know about refugees to be able to reach their hearts and minds to teach them a language that is foreign to them? I look forward to meeting you all at the TESL Ontario Conference on November 1st.
About the presenter:
Asmaa Cober is originally from Iraq where she was raised by two teachers from whom she inherited the value of education and learning. During her refugee journey, Asmaa lived in four different countries and is fluent in 5 languages. For the last 25 years, she has been working with refugees in different roles. Six of those years were spent in the classroom working with refugee children in Finland.
Asmaa is currently working as a clinical social worker at a refugee health clinic in Waterloo Region while running her own private practice. She has earned the Masters of Social Work degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and is a member of EMDRIA international as well as the Canadian Association of Social Workers.
Asmaa has an immense passion for inspiring others to reach their best potential, shaped by her own refugee experience. As a former refugee, she has overcome a variety of barriers, and is keenly aware of the issues and obstacles that refugees and immigrants face on their journey. In her role as a clinical social worker and community educator, Asmaa uses humor, cultural knowledge, education, art, and faith. She uses her skills and experiences as tools to empower people to rebuild their lives and find meaning past their trauma.