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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

My experience as a WUSC graduate

July 24, 2020

Yassin AliYassin Ali, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Class of 2020)

Yassin is a recent WUSC graduate who came to Ontario Tech University from Sudan. We asked Yassin to answer a few questions about his experience in Canada and at the university. 

The World University Service of Canada (WUSC) is a program that supports refugee students (students who have been displaced from their country of origin due to war, politics, religion and tribal issues) through an ongoing partnership with over 80 Canadian campuses. Upon graduation, WUSC helps students gain permanent residency status.

What was it like visiting Canada for the first time?

When I first learned I got accepted into the WUSC program, it was the proudest moment of my life. I mean, who doesn’t want to study in Canada? When I first arrived it felt different, strange but in a good way; I was excited to start my new life. I had questions in my head such as “how am I going to start a new life in this totally different world than the one I am used to?” But, once I started school and made friends everything felt easy and doable. Funnily, I made a bucket list to visit all the amazing landmarks, but I only ended up ticking off a couple of them. Before coming to Canada, a lot of people told me about Tim Horton’s epic coffee and said that it should be the first thing I try. At first, I thought people were exaggerating when they told me that there’s a Tim Horton’s on every corner, but between the airport and Oshawa I saw A LOT. To be honest, Tim’s is cheap and reliable so I would recommend that everyone visiting for the first time should try it.

Do you have a favourite thing about Canada?

To be honest there are a lot of favourite things about Canada but personally, my favourite thing about Canada is the diversity. I’ve always known about Canada’s diversity but experiencing it personally is amazing. I always imagined it differently with way more white people, but coming here, experiencing and talking about it I found a lot of its residents are not actually born here. Another favourite thing about Canada is that people are friendly and nice. I remember in my first week I lost my way and this woman who was walking her dog saw me and somehow knew I was lost; I was reluctant to ask her for directions but surprisingly she asked me are you okay? I said I kind of lost my way, she asked with a smile on her face are you new here? I said “Yes, I have been here for about a week” with a broken accent. Anyway, she showed me the directions to where I was going. 

What is something that surprised you here?

People are so nice here that they say thanks and sorry all the time even if they are not at fault. At first, it felt strange to me, like it is not sincere, but after spending time with them I kind of started doing the same; maybe it is in the water or the natural parks around every corner. Canadians are so easy to befriend. When school started everything felt totally normal though. I do not know, maybe because I used the same education system before back in Jordan when I was studying an Online Diploma in through Regis and Georgetown University because the structural systems (Blackboard) are exactly the same. 

What has been the most challenging part of your time here?

Honestly, in terms of education I haven’t had any challenges so far. The real challenge I faced and still facing is the reality of being far from my family. We talk through social media, but I have not seen them in such a long time that it does not matter how much I talk to them, I always miss them. Being away from them might be the hardest thing that I have done but it actually helped my grow as a person and made me stronger because I look at my journey and what I have been through for the last years and I say to myself that is actually inspiring, it helps me keep going in the hope of reuniting with my family one day.

What has been the highlight of studying at Ontario Tech?

Ontario Tech has been an unforgettable experience for me. I learned so much about myself as an immigrant and student. Personally, my favourite moment cannot be narrowed down to only one specific moment/highlight. However, during my time at Ontario Tech, I had the chance to participate in the City Idea Lab that involved experiential learning which gave me some insight into how things work outside the classroom. My group members and I had the chance to work with the City of Oshawa Receptors to find a solution for how the City of Oshawa might engage youth in the priority neighbourhoods. This experiential learning course gave me a sense of how policy project proposals should look like. Therefore, I would say this is the highlight of studying at Ontario Tech University. However, there are a lot of other things worth mentioning as well such as being an Ambassador for a couple of years through which I met staff members and other students whom I am proud to call family and friends. 

What does it mean to you to be graduating? Do you have plans for after graduation?

Throughout my time at Ontario Tech University I have had a lot of great moments.  Though, all of my moments at Ontario Tech were proud moments for me because they remind me of my hard work. For me, University is what you make it, getting involved on campus was one of my proudest moments at Ontario Tech. Getting to know other students and working hard is truly what makes university experiences unforgettable. So, graduation means there is a new challenge for what is coming next. Transitioning to the job market could be the real challenge as right now nothing is obvious about what is going to happen in the next couple months because of the pandemic. In short, my short goal is to become a licensed Immigration Consultant and my long-term goal is to go to law school for Immigration Law or Study international Affairs.

How did WUSC impact you?

WUSC is probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I was not so hopeful about my future before WUSC. WUSC is the reason I attended Ontario Tech, they provided me with the opportunity to pursue my dreams and I am forever grateful. I always had the will to improve myself and be ready in case any opportunities come by and my hard work finally paid off and thanks to everyone who played a role in my success.  

Any advice or final thoughts?

Never believe in luck too much, believe in preparedness and have the will to work hard and you will create opportunities for yourself. Also, something I always go by, never try to be perfect and always aim for progress because for me progress is attainable, perfection is an illusion.

By Yassin Ali