A Chatham-Kent man is going on a trade mission to Singapore and Malaysia this month as part of a group of Canadian youth looking to bring back knowledge to share with their communities.
Thador Tekhli is part of the national non-profit Global Vision’s Junior Team Canada this year. The group is heading to Southeast Asia July 25 to Aug. 9.
The 19-year-old said he has been engaged with politics, travelling to Queen’s Park for a couple of years to learn how policies are created.
He said he wanted to get involved with this trip because he has noticed “many problems in our community,” including high municipal property taxes and a lack of small businesses, and he wants to understand how other countries have addressed problems in their own communities.
“Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world,” he said. “They’re the fastest-growing economy in the world and they’re the financial centre of big businesses in the world. There’s a lot of opportunities there, lots to learn and a lot to comprehend.”
The Junior Team, which has 30 ambassadors, will be working with the Canadian embassies in these two countries.
Tekhli said the mission is also about promoting Canadian business overseas and trying to find opportunities for Canadian exports.
“I have a couple of businesses that I’ve spoken to in the community and then I’m going to do some market research for them when I get to Singapore and then when I come back, share that with them,” he said.
Originally from Sudan, Tekhli emigrated to Canada in 2010 and became a Canadian citizen last March.
He said that experience inspired him to find ways to give back.
“I took an oath and I made a moral obligation to try to not only be the best person I can be in the community, but to help the community be better,” he said. “I really wanted to engage and help people. That was really a calling for me when I became a citizen.”
Tekhli said life is better in Canada, but it was challenging to adjust at first. He only spoke Arabic and had to learn English.
He said aspects of Canadian society, such as the infrastructure, businesses, government and policing, were a “shock” compared to what he saw in Sudan.
“It was a big change to me and it was difficult to comprehend a good society that I had never experienced when I was back home,” he said.
Tekhli said Holy Trinity St. Paul’s Church sponsored him when he came to Canada and again sponsored him for this trade mission, as each ambassador needs to secure $6,000 in sponsorships.
After graduating from Chatham-Kent secondary cchool, he enrolled in the accounting program at St. Clair College in Windsor and recently finished his first year. He said he’s doing a bridge program with the University of Windsor, where he wants to continue studying accounting with a minor in the humanities, and eventually go to law school.
Tekhli said because of the support he has received throughout his life in Chatham-Kent, he’s proud to say it’s where he’s from.
“The people there are great. They always support you no matter what and they always push you to be the best person you can be,” he said. “I feel like I have a sense of obligation to give back to the community.”