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Travel A trip to Montreal gave this teen a chance to connect with other refugees

Laszlo Sarkozi, 16, came to Canada in 2011.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

This story is part of Crossings, a series chronicling the global refugee and migrant experience. Follow the series and add your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #GlobeCrossings

Name: Laszlo Sarkozi

Age: 16

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Home country: Hungary

Laszlo Sarkozi and his family arrived in Toronto as asylum seekers from Hungary in 2010, amid violent attacks and rallies against the Roma ethnic minority in the central European country. Although they were denied refugee status, the family was granted the right to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds in 2013.

Since coming to Canada, Laszlo's experiences of travelling have so far been limited to Montreal and Edmonton, where he attended Youth Action Gatherings organized by the Canadian Council for Refugees. Young refugees and immigrants from across the country attend these annual gatherings to share their experiences and ideas on how to address common issues.

Here, he shares his impressions of his travels:

"The first Youth Action Gathering in Montreal in 2012 was recommended to me by the [former] director of the Roma Community Centre. By that time, she was a friend of the family. We went to a lot of the events that she organized and helped her organize. We thought it was a good idea for me to go, mostly so we would be better informed, and so we would help other people be better informed of our situation, too. If you look up, for example, the problems that Roma people face in Europe on the Internet, it's hard to find articles that aren't biased. So it was a chance for me to represent the Hungarian Roma.

"I remember it was really fun, the actual travel, like getting on a plane. It wasn't as tiring as the journey my family and I made from Belgium to Toronto, which must have been at least nine hours.

"I like how Montreal looks. I think Montreal looks a lot more beautiful because it's close to water. And just in general, when I was walking around, it looked less scary and more friendly than Toronto because there weren't as many tall buildings or alleys. It does remind you of Europe because there's a similar feel to it, too. I don't think we visited any tourist sites specifically, but I did actually see a lot of Montreal, just walking around there for the first time.

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"I met a lot of people. There was a workshop about the war that is going on in Syria, and we were shown pictures. The speaker told us about how he lived in a city his whole childhood, and now he goes back every couple of years to visit. And the entire area where he lived is in ruins. It was bombed. He told us about the problems the people there face and the effects of the war. I remember that the most.

"I just kind of realized the problems my people face, other people also face. It's not an uncommon problem."

As told to Wency Leung

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