September 23, 2023

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‘It changed my life’: How an Ontario university tuition levy helps students affected by war become grads

‘It changed my life’: How an Ontario university tuition levy helps students affected by war become grads

Alik Sarian uprooted her lifetime two times for her university schooling.

On Tuesday, she will be one of hundreds of students receiving a bachelor of science degree at Wilfrid Laurier University through convocation ceremonies, and states she has her classmates to thank.

Sarian is originally from Aleppo, Syria. In 2016, she moved with her household to Lebanon simply because of conflict, and attended Haigazian College in Beirut with a scholarship to study biology.

In 2019, a mate informed her about a plan at Wilfrid Laurier College in Waterloo, Ont., known as International Pupils Conquering War (ISOW), which associates with educational and entrepreneurial method Jusoor Syria to bring students to Canada from locations afflicted by war so they can review safely.

Sarian applied and was acknowledged. She moved once more, this time to Canada.

“We had now uprooted our family after and we experienced to re-set up all the social ties and that do the job, get to know individuals, in essence build our lives from scratch,” Sarian reported.

“Obtaining to do that the second time was a bit harder taking into consideration that Canada is a culturally distinctive place than going concerning Syria and Lebanon.

But the persons associated in the ISOW program aided make the transition to Waterloo uncomplicated, she stated. 

“All people was so wonderful, so welcoming. It was amazing how everyone was willing to go the extra mile, get the more action.”

‘It changed my life’: How an Ontario university tuition levy helps students affected by war become grads
Sarian with a statue of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, a previous Canadian key minister and namesake for the Waterloo university the place she’s acquired her bachelor of science degree. (Submitted by Alik Sarian)

Sarian learned how to navigate the banking system — “we did not have any credit playing cards in Syria” — and she fell in appreciate with the organic natural environment.

“I came in the end of summertime, the starting of drop. So just the beautiful tumble colors, the trees, the leaves that had been just spectacular,” she claimed.

College student-funded application

The application was begun in 2014 by students at Laurier. Each and every pupil, via their tuition expenses, contributes $8 to the scholarship levy, and the team uses that cash for scholarships for people in want.

Above the years, it has introduced 23 college students to the college from conflict zones these kinds of as Gaza, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Myanmar.

Ritu Singh, president of the method, said all college students gain from it.

“Each individual yr a new cohort of college students have an option to lead ISOW by taking on complicated projects and producing substantial-quality perform,” Singh mentioned.

“Pupils that do the job and interact with ISOW can dietary supplement their university education in a distinctive and constructive way. Every single year, the Laurier pupil system generates a new wave of energized commitment and aid. In this way, ISOW is a exceptional business that tends to make Laurier a much more intriguing, vibrant and distinct college.”

Members of the ISOW team, dependent at Wilfrid Laurier College, have been in Ottawa in April to converse about expanding the method and serving to far more pupils in conflict parts go to school in Canada. This photo exhibits college students conference with representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (Gavin Brockett/Intercontinental Students Beating War)

In April, students travelled to Ottawa to converse to federal politicians about the system, and Singh said they provided a “powerful scenario” for expenditure in the program.

‘They blew me away’

One particular of the folks they spoke to was Ontario Independent Senator Ratna Omidvar, who claimed the pupils amazed her.

Ratna Omidvar, an Independent senator for Ontario, met with learners representing the ISOW software when they visited Ottawa in April. Omidvar claims the learners and their proposal impressed her. (CBC)

“I said to someone ideal right after that [meeting], these are policy and political leaders of the long run, for the reason that they had a grasp on laws, they experienced a grasp on coverage and they had crafted out not just an aspirational inquire, but a incredibly tangible proposal for their attempts to shield learners who are at danger in conflict zones,” Omidvar explained.

“And they ended up so young. They blew me away.”

Omidvar, who is recognized for her function in migration, diversity and inclusion, said she has the two a particular and a parliamentarian reaction to the plan and what the learners offered to her.

“The emotional response is certainly correct up there. Of study course, you want to preserve learners who are at danger. Younger individuals must be allowed to get on with their life if they come across themselves in conflict zones and their life are upended.” 

She said the parliamentarian’s reaction is that the method also meets requirements for the state.

“Canada continues to need to have talent. It continues to need to provide individuals into the country who can really quickly develop into aspect of our workforce and build our nation as we all know we need to have to.”

Marie-France Lalonde, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, also achieved with the team in April and reported they were “amazing ambassadors” for the program.

“We know that intercontinental learners make huge economic, cultural and social contributions to our communities, and it is crucial for Canada that we continue on to welcome intercontinental college students that are impacted by war,” she explained in an emailed assertion.

Up up coming: Applying to med faculty

Sarian will graduate with the optimum quality-level average (GPA) among all undergraduate students this year at Laurier. She’s also the recipient of the Governor General’s Silver Medal — the maximum difference out there to undergraduate learners.

Her household, who returned to reside in Syria, will observe her cross the stage at convocation by means of a are living online video feed.

WATCH | Alik Sarian on what she seen when she came to Canada.

Alik Sarian on distinctions among Syria, Lebanon and Canada

Alik Sarian is from Syria and researched in Lebanon prior to she attended Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., as part of a system known as International Students Conquering War. She suggests she recognized some significant variations when she arrived in Canada.

She said right now, she’s making use of for everlasting residency in Canada and then programs to apply to health care faculty to become a physician. She plans to take a hole year to come across function — preferably in the healthcare discipline to give her some encounter — and raise the cash for tuition.

She said she sees a foreseeable future for herself in Canada, all many thanks to college students at Laurier.

“The way we like to contextualize the levy is by stating a cup of espresso from Starbucks can adjust someone’s everyday living.”

Sarian said people have requested her: Is that actual, can $8 really have that considerably of an effects on a person’s life?

“I’m in this article to say that it does,” she explained. “It transformed my everyday living.”