A season of ‘firsts’ for inaugural arrival under RRC Student Refugee Program

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Temperatures outside may be dropping, but Yves Ngendahimana — the first Red River College student to enrol as part of the newly-launched Student Refugee Program — is still enjoying the warmth of a Winnipeg welcome.

Ngendahimana, who arrived in Canada from the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi, joined RRC’s student body through a sponsorship agreement and partnership with World University Services of Canada (WUSC).

After becoming a permanent Canadian resident in Toronto on Aug. 26, he made his way to Winnipeg, where he was greeted at the airport by RRC staff and members of the College’s local Student Refugee Program Committee.

Since then, he’s experienced a number of “firsts” — chief among them, a winter with actual snow — but says he’s feeling comfortably connected to the College community thanks to the efforts of the local SRP Committee, the RRC Students’ Association, and the College’s Campus Living office.

“My experience has been really awesome — there is a good family here,” says Ngendahimana, who’s currently studying Applied Accounting at RRC’s Exchange District Campus. “The College is a really good environment for studying and learning.”

Through his involvement with both the Students’ Association and the local SRP Committee, Ngendahimana has met many new friends and has found plenty of ways to keep busy outside the classroom. One of his most memorable experiences so far was becoming a member of the RRC Rebels soccer team.

“Soccer helped me meet new people and allowed me to see some of the province through team travel,” he says. “It was a lot of fun.”

Adjusting to our colder climate has proven less of a challenge, thanks to the mild season so far. But Ngendahimana’s instructors and fellow students still made sure his first snowfall was memorable.

“It was so nice seeing the snow,” he says. “The whole city was covered in white — it’s something I had never witnessed in my life.”

With exams underway this week, Ngendahimana has his head buried in his books to ensure he’s fully prepared. He’s looking forward to 2016, in particular a January trip to Ottawa to attend WUSC’s annual conference alongside fellow committee members from across Canada.

There, he’ll be reunited with colleagues and friends who are also new sponsors to Canada this year, and are adjusting to campus life at universities and colleges throughout the country.

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

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