A Syrian Child Transforms

Catrin Einhorn & Jodi Kantor:

As soon as Bayan Mohammad, a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, arrived here last winter, she began her transformation. In her first hour of ice-skating, she managed to glide on her own. She made fast friends with girls different from any she had ever known. New to competitive sports, she propelled herself down the school track so fast that she was soon collecting ribbons.

Bayan glued herself to the movie “Annie,” the ballet “Cinderella” and episodes of “Wheel of Fortune,” all stories of metamorphosis. As her English went from halting to chatty, she ticked off everything she hungered to do: An overnight school trip. Gymnastics lessons. Building a snowman — no, a snow-woman.

“I just want to be Canadian,” she said.
The volunteers resettling her family — a group of teachers, pediatricians and other friends and neighbors spurred by devastating images of young refugees and casualties of war — watched Bayan with wonder. Her parents, Abdullah and Eman Mohammad, a former grocery store owner and a nurse from a rural village, felt both pride and alarm.