Kiavash Kazerooni

ELC’s Tracy Lim with program graduate Kiavash Kazerooni. Photo by Greg Ehlers.

I was very happy to come because I wanted to learn about new cultures. Here it’s very different from my country and the Middle East.

As the son of two surgeons, Kiavash Kazerooni has always wanted to be a doctor. While growing up in Iran, he and his younger brother would occasionally join their parents at work, where he’d get the chance to watch them in action.

“The babysitter could not control us,” he laughs, “so that’s why I was brought to the surgery.”

Today, Kiavash is working toward his dream medical career. The 19-year-old recently completed the English Language and Culture Program (ELC) and is now attending Fraser International College to prepare for admission into Simon Fraser University.

“I want to join Doctors Without Borders,” he explains. “I want to work on a medical team and go where there is a national disaster or epidemic, or wherever I’m needed most.”

Caring for others seems to be in his blood. Kiavash originally left Iran for Vancouver to look after his brother, who is enrolled at a local high school. “I was very happy to come because I wanted to learn about new cultures,” he recalls. “Here it’s very different from my country and the Middle East.”

Because Kiavash had studied at American College in Dubai, he had already been practising his English before he arrived in Canada. But thanks to his time at ELC, he’s gained more confidence in his language skills, as well as in his understanding of North American culture.

While he learned about topics like Canada’s systems of government, his immersion in Canadian culture also extended to discovering the lighter side of life in this country—such as outings to Tim Hortons. His coffee of choice? “I really like French vanilla!” he says. “I even told my friends in Dubai about it.”

In chatting with Kiavash, it’s clear that one of his favourite English phrases has become “why not?”—his standard response to any new opportunity. Game for anything, he joined almost every social event offered at ELC. He says he appreciates the effort that ELC student support assistant Tracy Lim put into organizing a wide range of activities for all the students.

He also enjoyed Tracy’s drop-in Conversation Clubs, which brought students together to practice their English skills. “We had discussions about life, and things like that. It’s cool. Tracy does that because she wants us to meet new friends.”

It worked, he adds: “I’ve found a lot of friends.” During his time at ELC, he joined numerous activities ranging from going to movies, cycling and swimming, to playing paintball, basketball and soccer. But Kiavash laughs and shakes his head when he remembers those classmates who weren’t quite as energetic.

“Some of the students sleep more than 14 hours—it’s like magic. How is this possible? Before it’s your time, you need to live!”

Kiavash certainly seems to be doing just that.