Fredericton — A small group of forward-thinking Fredericton High School students are making plans to personally welcome incoming Syrian refugee teenagers into their school through their Fredericton Besties program.
“When they get here, we’re going to line up all of the refugee kids in a row. We’ll pick which ones we want to be our friends, then we’ll totally hang out with them and be besties forever,” explained the leader of the group, Vanessa Eliot.
Now in her senior year, Eliot and her friends have been befriending young people from minority groups as a part of her Fredericton Besties initiative since the 10th grade, when they befriended gay teen Caleb Weldon.
“Yeah, I used to hang around with Vanessa and the girls for a while,” said Weldon, shrugging. “We used to go to the mall and eat lunch together and stuff, but then she started hanging out with Susan Bonnell, who’s transgendered. I haven’t really seen her since.”
Eliot says that what she and her circle of friends do is to try to form connections with people in trendy, underprivileged positions; but she stresses that their ethnic background or sexual orientation “is no big deal” and “doesn’t even matter, really.”
In the case of the Syrian refugees, Eliot says that she would like to find a young person who is fun, interesting and “can talk English OK.” She doesn’t foresee this being a problem, considering that “there should be plenty of them to choose from.”
“It’s my goal that every friend group in our school will have at least one Syrian refugee by March,” she said proudly.
“I just hope that I get a girl, so I can have her over to my house and give her a whole new look,” Eliot told The Manatee via text. “OMG, come to think of it, they probably don’t even have MAKEUP in the Caribbean! Thats Sooooooo SAD! 🙁 🙁 🙁 ”