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Students end up in same Maple Ridge school, first meet in airport in France

Grade 7 students Yousif Al Tlua and Layth Mabrouk are in the same class at Laity View Elementary
Yousif Al Tlua, left, and Layth Mabrouk, met in an airport in France, but didn’t know they were going to be in the same class at the same school in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News)

Two Canadian children travelling from different countries in North Africa, ended up in the same class at a Maple Ridge elementary school.

Yousif Al Tlua and Layth Mabrouk were both on their way home with their families – one travelling from Tunisia and the other from Libya – when they started talking together during a five hour stopover at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France.

Layth, his mother Hajer Daoud, and father Qualid Mabrouk, were on their way home from a vacation in Tunis.

Yousif, his mother Maleka Ben Mahei, and father Basim Al Tlua, were on their way home from Libya.

What neither family knew was that they were on their way to the same small community outside Vancouver, and that their sons were also going to attend the same school.

As the families both spoke the same Arabic language they struck up a conversation about online vaccine forms that they had to fill out before entry into Canada.

Their sons also started talking and playing together.

The families parted ways when the flight began to board, Air France, headed to Vancouver.

“We didn’t know we were going to the same province, the same city, and the same school,” Layth’s mother Hajer laughed.

Yousif’s father Basim explained that his family is new to British Columbia. They previously lived in Ottawa and were moving to B.C. as his wife had accepted a position as a family doctor in Maple Ridge.

In between moving, they returned to Libya to visit family during the summer and from Libya they went to Tunis and travelled from Tunis to France and France to Vancouver.

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“Layth’s family were in the same airplane, but we didn’t know each other,” said Basim.

When they finally arrived in Maple Ridge a few weeks into the beginning of the school year, Basim took his son to Laity View Elementary and was in the principal’s office going over paper work, when a student entered the office and Basim noted that he had seen the student somewhere, but couldn’t remember where. Because, he said, it was about three or four days after his family had arrived and settled down in the city.

But Layth remembered Yousif immediately from the airport layover.

They discovered not only were the boys in the same school together, but were in the same class as well.

Layth showed Yousif to his new classroom, and now they are good friends.

Over the winter break the boys even went to see a hockey game together.

Both families have become good friends as well.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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