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My Canadian Growing-Up
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 Written by Jean-Paul Habanabakize
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I’m happy that I can share this story with you, because I got the chance of a lifetime and right now I’m living my dream. My name is Jean Paul Habanabakize and I come from Rwanda, in the Kivumu Parish, and I work in the Padri Vjeko Center as a teacher.

I’m writing to you from Canada. I arrived here thanks to the help of good people, organized by Timmy Shaw, in order to obtain new carpentry skills and knowledge which I will then be able to pass on to the students in our school in Kivumu.

I left for Canada on March 24th, and that was the first time I flew in an airplane in my life. It was an incredible experience. From the Kigali airport we flew to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and then on to Paris, France. Finally, I arrived in Calgary on March 26th. I was really nervous; everything around me was totally different. But what “shook” me in particular was – the snow and the below-zero temperatures! You see, in Canada I was welcomed by a lot of snow and - 16 (minus sixteen!) degrees.

You can imagine what a shock that was for me, growing up in a land of eternal spring where temperatures only vary from 15 to 30 degrees all year round. Of course, I was prepared for it all. Fra Ivica personally made sure that I was properly clothed for such harsh weather. But, then again, I was really surprised by the cold I’ve never witnessed before. I spent the first night in the home of our long time friend, Valerie Kae Ken, who has been unselfishly helping our Padri Vjeko Center for years.

Jean-Paul HabanabakizeEverything I see around me in Canada is something completely new for me. I’m full of positive thoughts. Canadians are very pleasant and good people. I’m fascinated by the cities I’ve visited with their tall buildings, and I am impressed with the way they organize their school system.

Already the second day upon my arrival in Canada, I began attending a school for education. I can’t tell you what was more interesting – the practical work, the technical drawing, the math, or working on different machines. I’ve learned a lot about using different types of nails and about finishing and polishing. I even undertook wooden house construction training! So it was all fantastic and I’m very impressed...

At the beginning of May I visited some of Calgary’s primary and secondary schools, where I made a short presentation with photos about Rwanda, the Kivumu Parish, and, of course - our Padri Vjeko Center.

From what I’ve so far seen, the Canadian educational system and curriculum is completely different from ours in Rwanda. That is why it’s good that we teachers come to Canada for training, because by adopting their programmes, we will be able to improve our school system.

I will remain in Canada until the end of June, but already I’m able to say that I’m endlessly thankful to the Padri Vjeko Center and the good people of Canada who made possible this journey, from which I will come back enriched by new knowledge and experiences. It will be a great pleasure to pass on the things I learned here to my students in Kivumu!

Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

Father Vjeko Center

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