Alik Sarian uprooted her life twice for her college schooling.

On Tuesday, she shall be one among lots of of scholars receiving a bachelor of science diploma at Wilfrid Laurier College throughout convocation ceremonies, and says she has her classmates to thank.

Sarian is initially from Aleppo, Syria. In 2016, she moved together with her household to Lebanon due to battle, and attended Haigazian College in Beirut with a scholarship to review biology.

In 2019, a pal informed her a couple of program at Wilfrid Laurier College in Waterloo, Ont., known as Worldwide College students Overcoming Conflict (ISOW), which companions with academic and entrepreneurial program Jusoor Syria to carry college students to Canada from areas affected by warfare to allow them to examine safely.

Sarian utilized and was accepted. She moved once more, this time to Canada.

“We had already uprooted our household as soon as and we needed to re-establish all of the social ties and that work, get to know folks, basically construct our lives from scratch,” Sarian stated.

“Having to do this the second time was a bit tougher contemplating that Canada is a culturally completely different nation than shifting between Syria and Lebanon.

However the folks concerned within the ISOW program helped make the transition to Waterloo simple, she stated. 

“Everybody was so good, so welcoming. It was superb how everybody was prepared to go the additional mile, take the additional step.”

Sarian with a statue of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, a former Canadian prime minister and namesake for the Waterloo college the place she’s earned her bachelor of science diploma. (Submitted by Alik Sarian)

Sarian realized the right way to navigate the banking system — “we didn’t have any bank cards in Syria” — and he or she fell in love with the pure setting.

“I got here ultimately of summer time, the start of fall. So simply the attractive fall colors, the timber, the leaves that have been simply breathtaking,” she stated.

Scholar-funded program

This system was began in 2014 by college students at Laurier. Every scholar, by their tuition charges, contributes $8 to the scholarship levy, and the group makes use of that cash for scholarships for these in want.

Over time, it has introduced 23 college students to the college from battle zones resembling Gaza, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Myanmar.

Ritu Singh, president of this system, stated all college students profit from it.

“Yearly a brand new cohort of scholars have a possibility to guide ISOW by taking over difficult initiatives and producing high-quality work,” Singh stated.

“College students that work and work together with ISOW can complement their college schooling in a novel and constructive method. Yearly, the Laurier scholar physique generates a brand new wave of energized dedication and help. On this method, ISOW is a novel group that makes Laurier a extra attention-grabbing, vibrant and distinct college.”

Members of the ISOW group, based mostly at Wilfrid Laurier College, have been in Ottawa in April to speak about increasing this system and serving to extra college students in battle areas go to high school in Canada. This photograph reveals college students assembly with representatives of the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees. (Gavin Brockett/Worldwide College students Overcoming Conflict)

In April, college students travelled to Ottawa to speak to federal politicians about this system, and Singh stated they offered a “compelling case” for funding in this system.

‘They blew me away’

One of many folks they spoke to was Ontario Unbiased Senator Ratna Omidvar, who stated the scholars impressed her.

Ratna Omidvar, an Unbiased senator for Ontario, met with college students representing the ISOW program once they visited Ottawa in April. Omidvar says the scholars and their proposal impressed her. (CBC)

“I stated to somebody proper after that [meeting], these are coverage and political leaders of the longer term, as a result of they’d a grasp on laws, they’d a grasp on coverage and so they had crafted out not simply an aspirational ask, however a really tangible proposal for his or her efforts to guard college students who’re in danger in battle zones,” Omidvar stated.

“They usually have been so younger. They blew me away.”

Omidvar, who is thought for her work in migration, variety and inclusion, stated she has each a private and a parliamentarian response to this system and what the scholars offered to her.

“The emotional response is clearly proper up there. After all, you wish to save college students who’re in danger. Younger folks must be allowed to get on with their lives in the event that they discover themselves in battle zones and their lives are upended.” 

She stated the parliamentarian’s response is that this system additionally meets wants for the nation.

“Canada continues to want expertise. It continues to want to carry folks into the nation who can in a short time turn out to be a part of our workforce and construct our nation as everyone knows we have to.”

Marie-France Lalonde, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, additionally met with the group in April and stated they have been “extraordinary ambassadors” for this system.

“We all know that worldwide college students make immense financial, cultural and social contributions to our communities, and it’s important for Canada that we proceed to welcome worldwide college students which might be impacted by warfare,” she stated in an emailed assertion.

Up subsequent: Making use of to med faculty

Sarian will graduate with the best grade-point common (GPA) amongst all undergraduate college students this 12 months at Laurier. She’s additionally the recipient of the Governor Common’s Silver Medal — the best distinction obtainable to undergraduate college students.

Her household, who returned to stay in Syria, will watch her cross the stage at convocation by a stay video feed.

WATCH | Alik Sarian on what she observed when she got here to Canada.

Alik Sarian on variations between Syria, Lebanon and Canada

Alik Sarian is from Syria and studied in Lebanon earlier than she attended Wilfrid Laurier College in Waterloo, Ont., as a part of a program known as Worldwide College students Overcoming Conflict. She says she observed some massive variations when she arrived in Canada.

She stated proper now, she’s making use of for everlasting residency in Canada after which plans to use to medical faculty to turn out to be a health care provider. She plans to take a spot 12 months to search out work — ideally within the medical subject to present her some expertise — and lift the cash for tuition.

She stated she sees a future for herself in Canada, all due to college students at Laurier.

“The way in which we prefer to contextualize the levy is by saying a cup of espresso from Starbucks can change somebody’s life.”

Sarian stated folks have requested her: Is that actual, can $8 actually have that a lot of an influence on an individual’s life?

“I am right here to say that it does,” she stated. “It modified my life.” 

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