Afghan refugee wins scholarship


Somaya Amiri, from Afghanistan, now lives in Vancouver.  She is in grade 12. 
Photo by Dan Toulgoet/The Vancouver Courier

Afghan refugee wins university scholarship
Adapted from The Vancouver Courier by Nancy Carson
Level 1

It is over three years ago.
A young girl comes to Vancouver.
She and her parents are refugees.
Her name is Somaya Amiri.
She cannot write English.
She can only write Dari.

She can only say two words:
“Hi” and “Bye”.
She says she is “super nervous”.
But she has a dream.
And she starts Grade 9.

A story from Somaya
Long ago, she lived
in a village in Afghanistan.
Her family lived far from the school.
Her brother was older.
He studied at school.
But she learned to read
and write at the mosque.
She always dreamed about school.

No girls allowed
One day she tries.
She puts a pencil in her pocket.
She quietly walks out the door.
She follows her brother.
But her father is at the school.
She is very shocked.
He is very angry.
And he takes her home.

Forgetting a dream
Her mother is crying.
All the women in the family
are upset and crying.
Somaya does not understand.
The family tells her why.
They think Somaya
would die on the road.
The Taliban or other people
would hurt her. Why?
A girl cannot go to school.
Somaya must forget her dream.

Later, the family sells everything.
They move to Pakistan.
They are not safe there.
Somaya’s father says
they must come to Canada.

School in Vancouver
Somaya loves school.
She works very hard.
She wants to learn more
and more and more.
Every morning she
learns 40 new words.
She practices speaking.
She volunteers for clubs.

The dream continues
Now Somaya is 17.
She is in Grade 12.
She checks the internet.
She applies for a scholarship.
In Canada, 3,800 apply for this one.

In early February, she gets news.
She wins a Loran Scholarship!
Only 30 students win.
The money will pay for
four years of university.

Somaya’s parents
Somaya’s parents are very happy.
“It means so much for them.
It wasn’t easy for them
to bring us here…
There was pain and
hardship coming, but then
at the end, it was worth it.”

Sir Charles Tupper school
Somaya says her high school
and community helped her so much.
They helped her reach her dream.

Somaya Amiri won a $100,000 scholarship for four years of university. Photo by Dan Toulgoet/The Vancouver Courier

Somaya Amiri won a $100,000 scholarship for four years of university.
Photo by Dan Toulgoet/The Vancouver Courier


  1. mosque: (mawsk) A building where Muslims worship.
  2. Taliban: An Arabic word meaning “students”; a group of Muslim military people who came to power in Afghanistan in 1995. They were sent out of the country
    by the American and native forces a few years later.
  3. scholarship: (skawl-er-ship) Money given to students for school


  1. See your name in the Dari script:
  2. About the Loran Scholarship: