Newcomer students share personal stories through art at Mackenzie Hall

Newcomer students at Westview Freedom Academy are sharing their stories through an art show at Windsor's Mackenzie Hall.

"Away from Home" features art from Westview Freedom Academy students

Originally from Syria, Duaa Alsamhan is a grade 8 student from Westview Freedom Academy. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Newcomer students attending Windsor's Westview Freedom Academy are sharing their stories through an art show at Mackenzie Hall called "Away from Home."

"All the students in the show are from my ESL classes and this was part of their final project about how it felt for them to move away from home," said Westview art teacher Melissa Thibert.

Melissa Thibert is an art teacher at Westview Freedom Academy. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

"A lot of these students are refugees, so this was a way for them to learn how to express themselves through art ... and just learn that this is a way they can share their ideas with the community and make change."

The show involves 67 works from 38 students.

"I really enjoy drawing. In my free time, I just draw. I express my feeling in it — I love art." said grade 8 student Duaa Alsamhan, who moved to Windsor from Syria. 

A painting by Duaa Alsamhan called "Dreams Collapsed." (Meg Roberts/CBC)

"[Art] makes me more confident for myself. I'm more calm — and more optimistic," she said.

Alsamhan credits Thibert with allowing her to develop her artistry.

"She was the only one helped me prove my skills," she said. "I didn't know I [could] paint that ... beautiful."

Bashar Almafalani and his work called "Crossroads." (Meg Roberts/CBC)

"My work is ... about me," explained grade 9 student Bashar Almafalani about his work entitled Crossroads.

"Like, Syria has my friends, my home, my family — and Canada, I have my future," he said, adding he has made many new friends in Windsor.

While he's not considering a career in art, Almafalani was proud to have his work on display.

"It's the first time that I've done [something like this]," he said.

"Away from Home" involves 67 works from 38 students. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

"Away from Home" will be at Mackenzie Hall from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Feb. 17.

with files from Meg Roberts