FORT ST. JOHN, B.C – Many people may not think about life outside the place they live, but Ma Murray students got a chance to hear what life is like in South Sudan.

During the school’s assembly via Zoom video chat on January 11th, Principal Kathy Scheck introduced Major Ryan Salsbury, from the 3rd Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment out of Patawawa, Ontario.

Salsbury, who is stationed in Juba, South Sudan, was the recipient of the schools Christmas Letters to Soldiers campaign, and want to thank the school while answering questions from the students.

“A bunch of the guys I work with, some of them are from Canada, some of them are from other countries, they looked at them with me, and they were just so happy. And, I had to reach out to you guys to say thank you,” said Salsbury during the video conference.

The 37-year-old, an infantry officer, is currently on a United Nations mission to help families in South Sudan.

His presentation to the school showcased what life is like for people in the area, including initiatives the United Nations has such as the World Food Program.

After his introduction, Salsbury spent around 30 minutes answering the questions he received from students. The questions included: What is the weather was like? How long is his tour? What types of animals does he get to see?

“There’s a monkey that lives on our camp. He’s super nice, even goes into the restaurants and tries to ask for food and sit on chairs and stuff,” says Salsbury.

There are currently 20,000 peacekeepers in South Sudan, according to Salsbury.

Since Salsbury wasn’t able to get to every question sent to him, Grade 1 teacher, Casey Fehr, noticed her students had several more questions after his presentation.

“We took out a few books about Sudan and water accessibility because that was one of the things they talked about was How do they get water? How do they shower? So, we read some books on that, and questions just kept coming up,” said Fehr.

She compiled all the questions and sent them to Salsbury.

“They sent them some interesting questions. They wanted to know: Do they celebrate birthdays? Do they have cake and treats? What are the hospitals like? Can they go to the hospital when they’re hurt? Is their electricity there? What kind of shoes do they wear? Do they get playtime? Do they celebrate the holidays?”

On Tuesday, the class received a reply from Salsbury answering the questions and provided pictures for the students to see.

“We talked about how we feel when we see the photos and how we feel like everybody should have a beautiful building like we do to go to school, and everybody deserves to learn.”

Fehr said it felt like the students were trying to connect with the children in Sudan and see things through their perspective.

“We don’t want to victimize people living in these situations either. We definitely want to celebrate them as well, show different places and all kinds of lights.”

As she notices the seeds being planted of global citizenship among the students early, Fehr believes it’s a good sign for the future.