Yara El-Soueidi: Lessons from high school and my mom

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On Sunday morning, while most of the city was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (one of my favorite holidays), I bought dessert for my mom. My mother’s birthday and St. Patrick’s Day coincide, so I miss the parade almost every year, much to the disappointment of my Irish friends (hi Hannah!). But it’s not about how I missed green beer and Irish folk songs while I was a little drunk and very happy.

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No, this is about my mother.

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I mentioned her in another column about my family, but I rarely mention her in my writing. That’s because we are a private family and I am the most public member. My parents, who have sacrificed a lot for me and my siblings, would prefer that I leave them out of my columns and I respect that as a general rule.

A few weeks ago a column about my high school was published in Le Devoir. It made waves. I tried to understand what I was reading. Everything in the column seemed disordered to me. The impression left was that the students were extremely rude and the teachers were resentful of their own classrooms. For me, as a student, It wasn’t fun to read.

I felt disappointed not only for myself, but mainly for my parents. I know how much my mom and dad wanted us to attend this school to receive a good education.

But I’ll be honest: I hated my high school years. Being a teenager caught between two cultures is not easy. Of course, we did the best we could and I still have good memories. I remember that the teachers did everything they could to make everyone feel comfortable. I remember the French classes in which the students, whether they were “Quebecois children” or children of immigrants, would debate with teachers. Isn’t that part of a healthy upbringing?

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I recently had the opportunity to speak with a principal at that school. They proudly told me that they saw my success as a young writer as a product of the education I received. This made me think a lot. School certainly had something to do with who I am today. But that’s only part of the story.

The truth is that I was a rebellious teenager. He hated any form of archaic establishment. I wanted to fight for what was right when so many things seemed wrong. I still do it. As for my love of words, culture, and Montreal, a lot of it comes from my mom.

This year he turned 55 years old. She is the reason I am the person I am today. I wish I could give her back everything she gave me.

When I was a child, she answered all my questions and never seemed bothered by my deep curiosity about all things. She would take me everywhere. She would play with me. Above all, she was present every day of my life.

She raised us to accept differences and accept what we could learn from anyone who wasn’t like us. She would take the time to explain the importance of being open to others. She told my sister and me that we could achieve anything, as girls and daughters of immigrants.

I’m lucky to have grown up with her as a mother, although I know I was a difficult teenager. I struggled with anxiety and depression. I was confrontational. She never backed down.

Whatever a principal or a teacher thinks, at my old school or any other, I believe that students come before all products. of the education their parents gave them. My mom gave me a love of culture (both the culture of my family roots and the culture I grew up in) for the whole world to see.

I am as Quebecois as my next-door neighbor. I know this because my mom told me it with pride in her eyes.

Good party, mom.

Yara El-Soueidi is a writer and cultural columnist based in Montreal.

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