By interviewing three WPGA students about their childhoods, we gain insight into those we pass in the halls.
Article by: Annushka Agarwal (grade 9), John Wang (grade 11), and Avrel Festinger (grade 11)
Photos by: Naomi Carruthers
Ankita Biswas – Grade 8
By: John Wang
“In my religion, there is one god-like person, his name is [Ganesha], and I always thought he was real and that he lived in the mountains. So if my family went to mountains, I would always look around for him.” To Ankita, childhood was a time to congregate with her family and to celebrate her culture. It was also a time filled with wonderful imaginings and unique adventures. Born in Canada, with family ties to Bangladesh, Ankita has a lot of stories to tell. During her childhood years, religion was a significant part of her life and it still is today. Ankita often visits Bangladesh, where unforgettable memories have been made. She first visited the country when she was only a few weeks old! Ankita enjoys visiting her relatives, playing games such as cricket with her friends, and especially attending festivals. One of these festivals is called Durga Puja. It is a vibrant gathering of people celebrating their culture. This celebration lasts ten days and is characterized by lots of jovial people chanting, drumming and dancing. In Ankita’s words, it is like a “big party where you party and pray to the gods for [many] hours…You dress up in [elaborate] clothes and see your friends.” To further connect with her culture, she is currently learning to speak her language. She hopes to share her experiences and culture with all of us! In closing, when asked to describe her childhood in three words, Ankita chose “crazy, fun and loving.” Needless to say, she has had a memorable childhood filled with her culture and family.
Ethan Jasny – Grade 10
By: Annushka Agarwal
“Wondrous, explorative, sleepy.” Ethan Jasny’s childhood consisted of equal parts adventure and whimsy. As a child, his family travelled wide and far: “The first trip that I remember going on was a trip to London in grade one. We went for about two and a half months because my mom had a sabbatical. I didn’t go to school there, but I had to do a lot of work. It was a very cool experience, getting to go abroad and also not having to go to school.” But Ethan’s first trip was actually the journey to Vancouver! He was born in Los Angeles and moved to Canada at about six months old. Later, when he was twelve, he returned to California with his dad to hike the John Muir trail, a 210-mile-long trek into the wilderness, “twenty-three days away from civilization and stuff.”
Some of his fondest memories feature precious blankets who came to life! There were two: Matilda and Sam, both shaped like ghosts. Apparently, they both had their shortcomings, but Sam was the superior blanket in Ethan’s view. Perhaps his enthusiastic imagination was linked to his reading material: from a young age, he enjoyed reading, especially fantasy books. He learned to read quite early and some of his favourites included: The Phantom Tollbooth, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He attributes his love of reading partially to his mother, who teaches Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen at Simon Fraser University.
Apart from his mother, Ethan remains very close with his immediate and extended family, which he describes as “a little quirky”. His grandfather used to “trick [him] into believing that up was down and down was up”. It was quite a shock on the day when he discovered that the directions were the other way around! One of his closest companions to this day is his younger brother Nate, who attends West Point Grey Academy as well. According to Ethan: “He had really chubby cheeks, and I liked to squeeze them, but he never lets me! Whenever it was my birthday, I would get a chubby day, so I got to squeeze his cheeks whenever I wanted. That’s my favourite memory, because they’re so soft.”
Looking back, Ethan says that his childhood was a time of growth and new experiences, and it’s certainly clear that many of the vivid memories of Ethan’s childhood have shaped the person he is today.
Sydney Bear – grade 12
By: Avrel Festinger
Picture this: a greens obsessed, snorkel loving, barbie playing, Hawaii adventuring child. This child is also known as Sydney Bear and her childhood is filled with stories. From the first year of her life up until only five years ago, Sydney travelled to Hawaii every year. These trips were a beloved family tradition that she continues to look upon fondly. Sydney paints a vivid picture of a day in Hawaii that is memorable to her. She and her mom had gone snorkeling, but, “my mom can’t really swim, so she grabbed onto me. I almost drowned, but I was okay.” This near death experience turned amusing memory does not even begin to describe the colourful stories Sydney has to share. Almost drowning was indeed not the most shocking part of her childhood – far from it. When Sydney was in grade eight, she learned a hard truth that many of us have not yet come to face. The proper pronunciation of the delicious ice cream known as “sherbert” is actually “sher-bet” – you do not pronounce the second “r”! This is a harsh and unfortunate wake up call for many, and Sydney is no exception. She described this realization as one of her most shocking discoveries. As she went on, Sydney explained that when she was younger, she was not allowed to eat candy, chips or anything unhealthy. The first time she was caught eating sweets was when she was four years old. She was at her cousins birthday and her parents were pretty upset. However, as well as candy, Sydney loved her greens.
“My favourite baby food was green peas. As a kid I loved greens, vegetables and everything. My parents had to hide the vegetables so I could eat my potatoes and my meat because all I ever wanted to eat was the greens. I would have only eaten vegetables if I had a choice.”
When asked what three words she would describe her childhood with, Sydney answered: fortunate, fun and crazy. Like most childhoods, Sydney’s was filled with memorable moments – some of which she illustrated. But, even with just a glimpse into her stories, it is evident that Sydney’s childhood was extraordinary.
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