Cara Tahiri on her daughter Alia’s graduation from the RWB School Professional Division:
Recently, I had the pleasure to be Winnipeg to celebrate the wonderful occasion of my daughter graduating from the RWB School Professional Division.
I began to think of the very first time I traveled to Winnipeg. Seven years ago I packed up our van along with Alia, took two of our other children with us, left two babies at home with my husband, and set out from Wisconsin for Winnipeg, Canada.
We set out on an adventure with mixed emotions - excitement and apprehension, anticipation and uncertainty. When we arrived, those same emotions went into overdrive, and our stress levels accelerated as we attempted to figure out where we were supposed to be, and all the things we needed to be doing. I remember as we tried to manage Alia’s large pieces of luggage to the RWB Residence, we found ourselves at the wrong building. Just then, a maintenance employee of RWB came upon us, and he said “You are in the wrong place.” With that, he picked up Alia’s largest suitcase, hoisted it upon his shoulder and said “follow me.” That was the first moment; in the experience of his kindness I was assured that everything would be okay. And as the whirlwind of those first couple of days went on, I was reassured again many times: when we were warmly welcomed by the counselors at the Residence, watching the teachers interact with the students on placement day, and when Ms. Minkhorst spoke with the parents during orientation. In each of these moments my thoughts were, “this is an incredible place, with incredible people. Everything is going to be okay.”
Yet even with those positive thoughts, nothing would prepare me to leave my then 11 year old daughter here, far from home, in another country, and drive away. Alia had never even been to camp, she had never been far from home, she had never been as far as Canada, she had never stayed in a large city, and she had never even been on an airplane.
I was heartbroken, and I remember crying all the way to the border, and crying often over those next few days, missing my little girl. My little girl is a young lady now, and little did I know then, this scene would be repeated over and over again through the next several years. Every trip here, and after every trip she made home, there is always that heartbreaking goodbye.
I have been asked many times “How could you let your child live so far away from home?” I have asked myself that as well, many, many times. It is the same answer as it was that very first time when I left her here, an answer I have repeated many times, and an answer that is still true today. The answer really is a question, “How do you say no to a child’s dream?” As someone once said, “Happy are those who dream dreams, and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”
Photo: Bruce Monk