Doing her father proud

Jim Day
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Danaiet Teame moved to P.E.I. eight years ago unable to speak a word of English but the language barrier and culture shock did not keep her from UPEI nursing degree with honours

Danaiet Teame overcame a major language barrier and culture shock after moving to Canada from Ethiopia at the age of 14. On Saturday, she graduated with honours from the nursing program at UPEI.

Her father would have been so proud.

Danaiet Teame, 22, of Charlottetown is sketchy on many details about her dad save one: he had a deep desire for the family to move to, and prosper in, Canada.

He wanted Danaiet and her brother, Sofonyas, to earn a good education and live well.

Teame was just in Grade 3 when her father, a native of Eritrea, a country in the Horn of Africa, was deported home while his family remained in Ethiopia. She would never see him again, but the pair kept in touch by telephone.

He took care of all the lengthy wrangling required to eventually win his family a pass to Canada. The plan was for him to be reunited with his wife,Tidge, and the couple’s two children.

Sadly, he died just 20 days before Teame came with her brother and her mother eight years ago to live in Prince Edward Island.

Teame was 14 and unable to speak a word of English when she arrived here. The language barrier and culture shock, though, did not keep a then determined teenager from fulfilling her father’s hope that she would do well in school.

Teame, in fact, would go on to thrive at university. She graduated with honours Saturday from the four-year nursing program at UPEI.

Kim Critchley, dean of nursing, describes the star student as “a very brilliant person.’’

Critchley first got to know Teame in the student’s third year at UPEI after Teame applied to go to Kenya as part of a three-month program that sees nursing students work in a hospital and in the community in a small, rural area.

Teame shone.

“I was very impressed with her,’’ said Critchley. “She is just so strong ... and independent.’’

Teame never doubted that she would graduate from university. The memory of her father — she still does not know how he died — helped push her through the nursing program.

English is her third language. Her first language is Amharica, which is unique to Ethiopia, and her second is Tigrina.

“My thoughts don’t really come to me in English,’’ she explained. “So writing a 10-page paper (for university) would be twice the process.’’

So Saturday’s graduation, with her name right there on the coveted Dean’s List, was nothing short of special.

Having her mother in the audience, as well as her brother, an earlier graduate of UPEI who came down from Toronto to watch Danaiet walk up on stage to accept her degree, only added to the moment.

“It feels great,’’ said Teame, who started work last week at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital but hopes to eventually do some work in underdeveloped countries.

She says her mother was “really excited’’ to see her graduate. And she knows her father is smiling down on her.

“I have my Dad’s ring on because I know this is for him,’’ she said, dabbing her wet eyes.

“He got what he wanted.’’

Organizations: Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Geographic location: Ethiopia, P.E.I., Charlottetown Eritrea Horn of Africa Canada Prince Edward Island.Teame Kenya Toronto

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Recent comments

  • alem teka
    May 18, 2012 - 14:15

    i'm an eritrian guess what i'm proud of this girl and i wish her best of best but as eritrian i keep see there is eritrian they keep talking stupid what we have in eritria you all knows it nothing but we always talk lie we need to stop this and let's go to the real life this days eritria is done 0 my family have lot of problem left and right i left there 2 years a go while people of eritria is crying the all world is aginst us coz of our trash mouth at my work here in sweeden they told me i have to have security class almost evry week as an eritriann no body else they fire eritrian man 8 month a go coz he talk trash i think we get humilation by god what ever we do to ethiopia i know no one agred up on this coz we as eritrian our heart is so big but i thankyou god i'm out this day evrything about eritria is just lie starting from the presidant all the way down

  • Ande
    May 18, 2012 - 00:37

    Congra.Danait young lady for your achievement you made every imigrant Inspired & proud.Anything is possible specially to ERITREANS & particulary your MOM & DAD

  • oiecha.OniOnné
    May 17, 2012 - 10:27

    She is Ethiopian! Irrispective of where she is and how many languages she spoke or will speak, she is ,Abova All, an Ethiopian. And that is not her choice or any ones!! That is who she is as of her Birth Roght!! Eritrea is a new Name imposed by the colonial master. That is a fact now . But he Birth Place of the Historic Ethiopian Nation and history is Bahiré Negash , where the present day Ertrea is.When we talk of Saabba/ Makida we are taking of area around Asmara, her birth place. Taemé, Her father being deported was tragic. I grieve for that! That was political and sheer ignorance and based on norrow minded Hate. I am happy she made it!I I was happy to hear she chose to go to Kenya to serve. Don;t give up on going up som more !! Above all Do not give Up Being an Ethiopian. That is who You Are! Oiecha

    • Selam A
      May 17, 2012 - 21:22

      * OIECHA.ONIONNÉ ..........I AM SURE YOU HAVE NO idea what history mean to you. you better sit in front of the computer and google eritrean and ethiopian history.

  • Getnet
    May 16, 2012 - 23:11

    Congratulation! Impressive story. I wish you a successful carrier.

  • beyene
    May 16, 2012 - 18:28


  • Yoseph
    May 16, 2012 - 15:53

    Bravo Danaiet!!! You are an inspiration to many young people who came to Canada. Working hard with a determination leads to success no matter what the obstacles are. You have demonstrated the motto of your father and grand fathers to NEVER KNEEL DOWN...AGAINST ALL ODDS. Good job!

  • Fasil Asfaw
    May 16, 2012 - 15:48

    You are an inspiration to millions in the world. I have two boys 17 and 20. I will share your story and I am sure they will be extremly encourged by it. What is facinating is the fact that you wanted to work in rural areas in underdeveloped countries. That is a nobel idea. God bless you and have a wonderful future a head.

  • Debessay
    May 16, 2012 - 15:09

    I am proud of you Danaiet. You are a great Eritrean! Please keep up the great work and focus on what matters most.

  • Aaron
    May 16, 2012 - 05:58

    Very sad story but atlast she win.Go girl I am so proud as Eritrean.

  • Yoseph
    May 16, 2012 - 00:26

    As a father in a same situation like your Dad, I have no words to express the feeling I had when I read the story. You have a lot to do. Wish you all the best

  • Simon
    May 15, 2012 - 18:30

    Proud of you, sister. I am sure your community is too. Just sent the story to few young people I know knowing well that they will be inspired. Keep up the hard work. I wish you and your family all the very best.

  • alsolostmydadyoung
    May 15, 2012 - 14:45

    This story brought me to tears. My father's greatest dream was to see me pursue a post secondary degree and have a good career. He passed when I was 12 and although I did go on to attend college, I did not graduate due to personal problems. It's very heartwarming and inspirational to see a young girl overcome such challenges in her life (ie coming to a province with very little cultural diversity) and graduating top of her class, thus living out the dream her father had for her! All the best to her and her family and congratulations on graduating!

  • dmacdougall
    May 15, 2012 - 11:30

    Read the story about this young lady and compare to the next story . $ 75000. tree project for 26 trees, (appx $3,000. per tree)The project will see grates installed around approximately 26 trees in the $75,000 , something to be proud of !! and then Teame never doubted that she would graduate from university. The memory of her father — she still does not know how he died — helped push her through the nursing program. Wow, makes you think, maybe $75000. to some kids in Chtown to help in education.

  • Sheryl - RN
    May 15, 2012 - 09:19

    Congrats. I'm certain you will be a wonderful asset to our profession. I love to hear these stories. Hard work really does pay off. Let this be a lesson to all of you facing adversity.

  • Home Now
    May 15, 2012 - 08:50

    Congratulations, Teame!

  • B
    May 15, 2012 - 08:44

    Great story of courage and determination. Thanks for sharing.

    • jane whitlock
      May 15, 2012 - 14:27

      i am so proud of this young women danaiet teame,who has gone through so much an achieved her dream too be a canadian and a nurse,thats awesome!your family must be so proud of you also,and im sure you dad is smiling at your success as well,god bless.may this be the start too a wonderful exiting career,that will bring you nothing but joy!