RRC extends warm welcome to inaugural arrival under new Student Refugee Program

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One of Red River College’s newest students received a particularly warm welcome after arriving in Winnipeg for a bit of pre-class orientation last week.

To be fair, Yves Ngendahimana has travelled farther than most. The first student to enroll at RRC as part of the College’s new Student Refugee Program, Ngendahimana comes to us all the way from Malawi, Africa, where for nearly 20 years he’s lived in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp.

After touching down in Toronto last Wednesday, Ngendahimana, 22, became a permanent Canadian resident, one who’s now transitioning to his new life as a Winnipegger with help and support from members of the Student Refugee Program’s local committee.

A joint initiative between RRC Student Services, the RRC Students’ Association, and World University Service of Canada (WUSC), the program provides a 12-month scholarship for one sponsored student at RRC each year.

As part of his sponsorship, Ngendahimana will study Applied Accounting at RRC’s Exchange District Campus, while living in a dorm room at the College’s student residence at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute.

“[Yves] was an avid volunteer back at the camp, working with other students and tutoring them in various business and financial fields,” says Lauren Konrad, Student Integration Coordinator with RRC’s Diversity and Intercultural Services office. “He has a great academic background, and he’s really excited to be in this program.”

Ngendahimana will no doubt rely heavily on the supports and services provided by the College and committee members over the next few months. To that end, the committee is actively recruiting new members from RRC’s staff and student community, in order to further expand campus involvement and awareness.

Members would be required to assist with settlement and recruitment activities; as Konrad explains, participation can also lead to formal leadership and development training with WUSC.

(This fall, a member of RRC’s local committee will attend a leadership training conference in Ottawa, after which point he’ll begin serving as the official head of the committee.)

21042848541_f1ba54b93d_zSince 1978, WUSC has helped 1,400 students from 35 countries in five continents pursue their goals of higher education — by giving them the opportunity to immigrate to Canada and attend one of 61 participating colleges and universities.

Additional support for the local committee comes through community and corporate sponsorship. RRC is particularly grateful to have partnered with Scotiabank and community member Albert El Tassi, whose generous contributions helped make the program’s first year possible.

As Konrad explains, the Student Refugee Program provides benefits to both the sponsored students and the Canadian residents working to make their transitions as comfortable as possible.

“For [Yves], it’s an opportunity to explore a whole other side of life that he would have never known, had he not had the chance to leave the camp,” says Konrad.

“For the College, it’s an opportunity for us to take part in global citizenship — to learn and develop awareness of what life in a refugee camp might be like, and also to became part of a community that’s supporting people as they grow and develop professionally.”

If you’re interested in joining RRC’s Student Refugee Program Local Committee, contact Lauren Konrad at 204.631.3345. If you’re interested in supporting the initiative financially, you can make a donation here.