German students feeling at home in Manitoba

by Tiffany Neufeld
Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

Garden Valley Collegiate has changed a lot and adapted well to the recent immigration of several German families to the community.

Starting over in a new country and now enrolled in grade 12, Lilli Friesen and Irena Derksen are finding out where they belong in a new culture.

Lilli Friesen immigrated to Canada in the summer of 1998. Since then, she has been attending high school and considering the possible avenues that her life could take. She says that she does not really want to go to university, but she would like to attend college or a Bible school. Like many young immigrants, she misses her friends back in Germany, and wants to go visit them this summer.

Friesen said she would like to see how the town has changed, and she wants to see her friends again, but she is happy living in Canada, and doesn't think that she would ever move back.

Friesen speaks four languages--Russian, German, Low German, and English and she hopes to go into a career that involve languages. She is also very interested in office work involving computers. She learned how to use computers only when she came to Canada, even though they had a few computers at her school in Germany. She was finished her grade 10 level in Germany, which meant she would have graduated, but she said that she was glad to have these two additional years of school so she could think about the future and what it holds for her.

Another student who has immigrated from Germany in the last few years is Irena Derksen. She is also a grade 12 student at Garden Valley Collegiate. Unlike Lilli, Irena would like to attend university after high school. She, too, would like to use her languages in a career. She would like to study at university to learn French and Spanish, and then move into a career where she could use them. Her plans for the future have changed since she moved to Canada, because now she is interested in going to university.

In Germany, after grade ten, university students have to go to another school for three years before university. Irena said that she never wanted to attend university because it took so long. Now, her only obstacle for university is the cost. She would like to get a job, so that she can start
earning money and fulfill her dreams. She also wants to earn some money so that she can go back to Germany to visit her friends and family.