Feeling at Home for the Holidays – Season’s Greetings from the Student Refugee Program


SRP students, Wasim Alkabani and Yves Ngendahimana, baking Holiday treats for the Red River College Local Committee (WUSC).

A little bit of snow has not stopped Applied Accounting student, Wasim Alkabani, from settling into his new Canadian life at Red River College. Wasim arrived in August 2016 from Lebanon to study at the College. He arrived with a sponsorship award through the College’s Student Refugee Program and WUSC (World University Services of Canada). Each year the College oversees the selection and sponsorship of one refugee student.

Since his arrival in the fall, Wasim is overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude for the support and friendship offered to him by the College’s local committee, his instructors, classmates and community members. Whether it’s technical support, learning to ride the bus, getting geared up for winter or learning how to bake, the student group has been supporting Wasim every step of the way while he adjusts to life in Manitoba. According to Alkabani, “the committee has taken great initiative to make sure I have all I need and I am surrounded by good people. This has made me feel very at home. This experience has been very exciting for me. I really appreciate the diversity on campus and meeting people from around the world in my classes. I like that I have access to many student supports. This has made my transition much more comfortable and I have learned a lot during my short time here.”

Although the support is strong, there are always challenging moments when you become a new resident in Canada. For Wasim, being far away from family can be difficult. However, there is no shortage of keeping in touch. “I am always talking to my family. I make video calls to my family in the evening from my room in residence. I send lots of pictures of the new things I am trying, the Exchange District Campus and the places I visit in the city.”

For Alkabani, the Applied Accounting program has kept him busy with studies and projects. As a former Finance and Administration Coordinator for the British Council in Syria, he finds his program to be a great tool for developing his current skill set and broadening his knowledge. According to Wasim, “group work is a new concept for me. I like the hands-on learning and many resources available for me to use. Having access to computers and a library really help me out. I love that I can study anywhere at anytime I like.”

Wasim has formed a friendship with former SRP student and RRC grad, Yves Ngendahimana. Yves arrived through the Student Refugee Program in August 2015 from Malawi and has been a mentor to Wasim since his arrival. Having now moved into industry, it’s a treat to come back to campus. “I really miss my community at the College. I miss seeing everyone every day. Wasim is very lucky to be at Red River College “says Ngendahimana. Yves, who is currently employed with Scotiabank, intends to continue studies in the College’s Business Administration program in 2017. “It will feel so good to be back. RRC is like home.”

The two plan to travel to Montreal in January to participate in the WUSC International Forum. The gathering will be a reunification of WUSC sponsored students from around the country. With a focus on international development, the conference will aim to inform students and their local committees on current development issues, and the role post-secondary can play by engaging in WUSC membership and global citizenship programming.

In Alkabani’s own words, “I would like to thank everyone who is part of my journey. I wish everyone at RRC a great Holiday Season and look forward to returning to my program in the winter term.”

Learn more about WUSC’s Student Refugee Program, or make a donation to RRC’s  Student Refugee Program Award.

To join RRC’s local SRP Committee, contact Lauren Konrad at 204.631.3345.