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The Living Library Project

Sharing human stories of immigration and integration.

The Living Library features five newcomers with unique and compelling stories of transition, settlement, and belonging. Organizations and individuals can book a featured newcomer to share their story at a gathering, staff event, or classroom and learn more about their newcomer experience and culture. The Living Library will introduce new speakers and stories every four months.

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Get to know our Winter Speakers & Stories below.

Speakers can be booked for speaking engagements beginning February 1.

To book a speaker, please contact Bhisham: bhisham@nccpeterborough.ca or (705) 743-0882.


Speakers & Stories

Abeer profile

Abeer Al-Salihi

"Welcome to Canada!" Now, how do you find a community?

Originally from Syria, Abeer moved to the United Arab Emirates with her husband in search of better employment and life opportunities. Trained as an engineer in Syria, Abeer worked in UAE as an Engineering Assistant after a few months struggling to find work. She taught herself English at home, eventually becoming a teacher and receiving her teaching license. After the war broke out in Syria and she lost her home, Abeer and her family travelled to Canada where they sought asylum. Following three months in Toronto, they settled in Cobourg, building a new life for their family of four. Abeer shares her family’s story of living as immigrants in UAE, her final visit to Syria, her new life in Canada, and her job at the New Canadians Centre as a Youth Worker supporting newcomer youth.

Themes: Refugee & Immigrant experiences; Syria; Motherhood; Supporting Immigrant Youth; Community
Story Available in: English; Arabic
alana-lee-headshot-corporate-business-photography-NCC-peterborough-staff-photos Bhisham

Bhisham K. Ramoutar

3 Countries. 5 Cities. 11 Houses. A Journey in Redefining "Home" and "Belonging"

Bhisham has been an immigrant for as long as he can remember. It was a defining part of his identity before he even realised it. Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, Bhisham lived in Guyana for 13 years before moving to Canada in 2013 to attend Trent University where he studied History and International Development. After taking a class in “Community Development” during his third year of university, Bhisham became engaged in a process of redefining what the concept of “home” means to him. Drawing on his experiences in 3 Countries. 5 Cities. 11 Houses. and his work at the New Canadians Centre as the Outreach Worker, Bhisham will share what home and belonging now means to him.

Themes: Post-Secondary Education; International Education; Home; Belonging
Story Available in: English
Charlotte Nzabondera

Charlotte Nzabondera

“This Is Your Home!” Journeying across continents to find a forever home

At age five, Charlotte and her family had to flee her native Rwanda because of the civil war. She lived in refugee camps in Tanzania and Kenya. Growing up, she never knew where she would live from day to day. There were days without food and water. In the camps, Charlotte worked hard to make ends meet and to survive. In 2016, she and her family were sponsored to come to Canada. On her first day in Peterborough, her sponsor said to her, “This is your home.” For as long as Charlotte could remember, home was always something temporary – something that could be taken away in a moment’s notice. Today, in Peterborough, Charlotte has found a forever home where she is learning new skills, building confidence, and improving her English. Charlotte shares her story of life in temporary housing in refugee camps in East Africa to finding a forever home in Peterborough.

Themes: Refugee Camps; Rwanda; East Africa; Childhood; Motherhood; Home
Story Available in: English; Kinyarwanda

Fabiola Contreras Carrasco

New Challenges in a New Home: How a community of women come together to support each other

Fabiola was born in Mexico City and came to Peterborough in 2015 to join her husband. In Mexico, Fabiola graduated with a Bachelors of Engineering degree in Electronics and did some studies in programming computers. She has always been interested in helping others, which led her to volunteer in underprivileged communities and was trained as an earthquake first responder. Since her arrival in Canada, she became involved in various programs at the NCC as a participant and then as a volunteer. In January 2016, she became the facilitator of the same Women’s Group where she found a great support overcoming the challenges Canada presented in the start of her new life. Running away from the insecurity in her country, she now has a lot of future work and study goals to become a productive new Canadian. She wants to continue contributing so that women feel welcome to this beautiful country which now she calls “my new home”.

Themes: Mexico; Latin America; Volunteerism; Community
Story Available in: English; Spanish

Magali Sperling

Crossings North and South: Being Mapped by a Place Called Branada

Magali is originally from Brazil and her first contact with Canadian culture was through the study of Canadian literature as an undergraduate student. She lived in Edmonton, Alberta, between 2002 and 2009 as a student, then moved back to Brazil to start her professional career, and has now settled down in Peterborough with her family since 2017. Due to her crossings between North and South America, and to her interest in reflecting about journeys and immigration, Magali will share stories and ideas about how we become mapped by the places we have been, drawing on her experiences in a place called Branada.

Themes: Identity; Brazil; South America; Travel
Story Available in: English; Portugese