The wonderful class of Mrs. Marie Eve

“I have never seen such a nice lady before.”

Posted at 5:00 am

I had just asked the students in the M . scholarshipsI Mary Eve How would they describe their teacher to me.

It was Esraa, a young Syrian refugee, who broke the ice. She knows M.I Mary Eve for a long time, because she was a teacher to her older sisters.

PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, PRESS

Esraa, a young Syrian refugee

I think she is the best teacher.

Esraa, a young Syrian refugee

Esra turned to her teacher. “Even my parents are telling you…” She paused, touched and embarrassed, as if squeezing her parents’ immense gratitude into just a few words was an impossible task. “They say you are a very good person.”

And Jacqueline, originally from Guinea, went even further. “I find M.I Mary Eve is really nice. I was very shy when I arrived… Thanks to her I took away all my shyness. »

With a lump in her throat contemplating how far she had come, Jacqueline burst into tears. Noemi, sitting next to her, held her in her arms. ” Pressure cooker… ”

PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, PRESS

Noemi and Jacqueline

Silence and misty glances erupted on stage.

When Marie-Yves Gervais invited me to meet her students at Polyvalente St. Jerome, she didn’t ask me to bring handkerchiefs.

She invites me not to throw flowers at her, but to give a voice to her young subjects, immigrants and refugees, who will take to the stage at the Gilles Vignault Theater in Saint-Jerome on June 9 in order to present the play to the general public Upcoming storiesalong with six students from the Nonimmigrant Middle Years Program (IEP).

Everyone has an opinion about granting immigrants. But in the blind spot of our fiery discussions, these young people’s stories, made up of bereavement and new beginnings, often remain invisible. You rarely hear their voices.

To free the voice of her students, Marie-Yves Gervais has invited director Thomas Sierra, who, in collaboration with the Sherpa University Institute, leads multilingual theater workshops for refugee and immigrant students.

M students.I Marie-Eve ranges from 12 to 16 years old. They came from Colombia, Nigeria, Syria, Central African Republic, Guinea, Congo… Some of them arrived via Roxham Road. Many remain in refugee camps. He suffered a lot of trauma. Some of them were illiterate when they arrived. Many, though in school, have to catch up in school because they had to interrupt their studies because of war or exile. They are all hungry to be accepted and heard. Hence the idea for this unique and moving project.

PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, PRESS

Thomas Sierra, theatrical director Upcoming stories

Through the workshops that led to the show Upcoming storiesStudents were asked to tell their stories. “The idea is that we are all story beings that we carry inside us. Sharing these stories builds connections. It generates feelings of empathy,” says Thomas Sierra, who drew inspiration from Robert LePage’s style of creating Riper.

This approach makes it possible to break out of the miserable picture in which we tend to confine refugees. “What we would like to share is the strength to get through all of this and get to where it is today.”

PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, PRESS

Blandin, originally from Congo

You got the job done. Attending the play, we are amazed to see these young people taking the stage, most of whom didn’t speak a word of French when they arrived. We are touched by their stories. We were so impressed by the song composed by Esther, who is originally from Congo, that upon arrival here, she knew one sentence in French (“Hello, my name is Esther”). His imperative: “You always have to have the courage to leave and turn the page.”

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Exercising creativity, in this playful and protective space of theatre, has beneficial implications for both the learning and the French language for students and their well-being, asserts Marie-Yves Gervais.

Israa, who recounts how a child sees her school being bombed, having to leave loved ones and cross the border with fear in her stomach, under the hail of bullets, can attest to this. Telling himself through the stage brought him some peace of mind. She puts her hand on her heart. “It’s a very hard thing in our hearts. So getting it out feels good.”

The experience was equally fruitful for the MYP students. Through this teamwork, it generated a space for dialogue among Quebecers from here and elsewhere, says Noemi. “I found her very rich as a Quebecer born here. I could not imagine all the stories they lived, their reality in their country.”

An adopted child, Maya found in this project both inspiration and a way to better understand her biological mother.

PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, PRESS

Maya

I wanted to make this piece to get closer to the people who lived through the experience of exile. Since my mom had to do this when she was little and I don’t really know her.

Maya

For a long time, the only black woman in her class, Maya trusts that she suffered from this, especially in grade school. Even today, he sometimes suffers from racism.

“By getting close to black people, this allowed me to gain more confidence and not be ashamed of being black… Because I was always ashamed, I always wanted to be white. Thanks to the French students, I was able to regain my self-confidence. I thank them.”

Me too, after attending a rehearsalUpcoming storiesI wanted to thank and congratulate all the craftsmen: Jacqueline, Tresor, Tatiana, Devin, Diego, Brian, Augustine, Eufrasia, Desiree, Grace, Jose, Esra, Ethan, Amy, Noemi, Evelyn, Mia, Tim, Esther, Blandin, Maya, Hermans and director Thomas.

To all of you – and to the beautiful lady – thank you.



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