KSA Sponsors Student Refugee Living in Canada

Sarah, a student from Syria and Jordan, is studying at KPU with the help of the World University Service of Canada

(Kristen Frier)

Sarah, a student refugee who travelled here from Jordan, has been given the chance to lead a new life in Canada thanks to a partnership between the Kwantlen Student Association and the World University Service of Canada through its Student Refugee Program.

Funding from the KSA allows Sarah to attend KPU, where she plans to pursue an education in business.

“WUSC has given me more chances to [live] my life,” says Sarah, whose last name has been omitted for privacy purposes.

Sarah is originally from Syria, but left for Jordan at a young age. It was there that she attended high school and college.

“When I was in Jordan, there were no chances to learn, and no chances even to travel to other countries,” she explains. “Now that I’m in Canada I have permanent residence and I can travel whenever I want. They gave me more chances to live a new life.”

Sarah says she would go to school in the morning and finish at about 4:00 p.m. She would then head to work, where she would stay until 11:00 p.m. before returning home to eat, study, and sleep. Her average salary was about $400 per month.

“It was too difficult,” she says. “I couldn’t sleep much during that time.”

After high school she focused on getting her education in business administration, but decided to leave her college after a year. Eventually she applied to the WUSC program.

Now Sarah lives in Delta, and some of her living expenses are covered by funds from the KSA. She is studying English in her first semester here and will be able to register in other courses next semester. She says she doesn’t know what she would like to register for, but knows that she’s interested in the business program.

“I love the situation—what I’m living here and what I’m doing here. I love this,” she says. “I’m always taking pictures and photos of everything at the university and I post it to Instagram, and my friends in Jordan told me, ‘Okay! We know! You’re at KPU.’”

Putting together the WUSC sponsorship took more than a year of work, and was led by former KSA VP Finance Rawan Ramini, who is originally from Jordan.

“The first time I was introduced to WUSC was by [former KSA President] Tanvir Singh and Diane Purvey, the Dean of Arts,” says Ramini. “Diane Purvey particularly thought that it was a good idea to bring [the WUSC refugee program] to KPU, but she needed a student to spearhead the process and do all of the work, because it has to be student-led. She reached out to me because she knows about my interest in refugee issues and helping refugees in general to improve their lifestyles.”

Several other schools across Canada also sponsor refugees through WUSC, including SFU and UBC.

Ramini says that covering the cost of Sarah’s tuition and living expenses is estimated to cost around $40,000 per year, which is being paid by the KSA. Currently Sarah has had two years paid for, but the other two years are not yet covered. She plans to advocate for a 60 cent per-credit fee that could pay for up to four more refugees to come to Canada and study at KPU.

However, if the question does not make it to referendum, or if students ultimately vote against the fee, the possibility of sponsoring future student refugees—or even continuing Sarah’s sponsorship—could become uncertain.

For now, Sarah says she is very happy living in Canada and exploring the areas around Vancouver, and is excited to continue pursuing her education at KPU.

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