Renowned refugee spokesperson to attend Vancouver conference

The iconic photo of Nick Ut (Courtesy of Emilio Labrador)

The iconic photo of Nick Ut (Courtesy of Emilio Labrador)

Known as the girl in the picture, refugee Kim Phuc was only 11 when she was photographed crying and running naked down a road, just moments after her village was attacked with Air Force napalm during the Vietnam War.

Phuc has travelled the world helping children of war, and this time she will be the keynote speaker for a conference next May, organized by the Teacher’s of English as an Additional Language association (B.C. TEAL).

B.C. TEAL’s involvement with refugees began three years ago, with the creation of the Refugee Award. The aim was recognizing refugees who had shown courage adapting to a new culture and who wished to do post-secondary studies in B.C.

After three years of fundraising, B.C. TEAL organized their third annual Grouse Grind hike last September to help reach their $100,000 dollar goal.

Among the 31 members who participated in the event, four BCIT teachers and one BCIT manager joined the cause, raising over $11,000 dollars and totalling over $22,000 after B.C. TEAL’s dollar-to-dollar match.

B.C. TEAL members before hiking the Grind.

B.C. TEAL members before hiking the Grind.

Business Development manager at BCIT International Michael Galli climbed a week prior to everyone, and he rose to the challenge by doing the grind five times – once for every $1,000 pledged. He raised over $5,000 dollars for the cause.

“This is such an important fund for these individuals,” explained Galli. “Which is why we have started a second award in honour of my son Taiga, who passed away last October. We will be raising another $100,000.”

The purpose of having Kim Phuc be a keynote speaker is to raise awareness and help raise funds for the new award. If they meet their goal, they will have raised a total of $200,000 dollars from both awards.

Galli explained he was happy to see some BCIT staff contribute to the cause, however he wished more people from the institution would help.

“I haven’t gotten very much of a response, so it would be nice to get BCIT more involved. It is an education-related fund, so there’s every reason why people should be involved,” added Galli.

The Taiga Galli Refugee Award has raised over $11,000 dollars so far; both Galli and B.C. TEAL hope to get closer to their goal with Kim Phuc’s presence because of the work she has done for refugees around the world.

For more information visit the BC TEAL Michael Galli website.