Tulashi Adhikari is a grade 12 student at St. Malachy’s Memorial High School, but she’s not your average high school senior.

Six years ago Adhikari arrived in Canada with her family after living in poverty and unsafe conditions in a Nepali refugee camp. During lunch on a Friday afternoon in her school library, she shared how she felt after hearing her peers share their opinions and misconceptions of refugees. She knew she had to share her story.

“It hurt me to hear how negative people were and I wanted to help them understand that the word refugee should not spread this negativity,” she said.

Adhikari put together a presentation to educate her school. The response was overwhelming and she went on to share her story with students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 throughout Saint John. 

“It was harder than I thought because as I was sharing my experience images of the refugee camp and the way we lived became very clear again,” she explained as she stared at the cream colour desk in front of her and brushed her hands across the service.

“This desk is so clean and it has been here for years. We never had desks like this. Everything was so dirty.”

“Despite her own challenges of mastering English, Tulashi is generous with her time to help other international students by leading the noon hour international group Cultural Fusion,” Natasha Peddle, Tulashi’s teacher said.

 “I have heard from at least a dozen students that Tulashi was their first friend at St. Macs.”

To Adhikari, peace means smiling at a stranger, welcoming people with open arms and being true to herself.

It is clear to see Adhikari’s desire to build a strong community. As a group of students from the Cultural Fusion lunch crew gathered in the common space to socialize before heading back to class, a sense of peace embodied the room.

Different cultures, different stories and differences in opinion coming together to simply hang out in a peaceful, judgement free space, thanks to the education that is happening in the school and in the community.

Adhikari will receive the Youth Peace Medallion Award on November 24th at the YMCA Millidgeville Community Centre. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at any Y location or online here: ymcapeacemedallionceremony.eventbrite.ca

Tulashi Adhikari with members of the St. Mac's Cultural Fusion Group