University students get involved with helping Syrian Refugees
Vancouver Island University is holding it’s annual International Development week and this year it’s theme is connected with international headlines.
The spotlight this year is on global citizenship. It’s a topical issue in light of migration from war zones with a handful of refugee families arriving recently on mid-Vancouver Island.
The week kicked off Monday, in the university cafeteria, with students sharing their thoughts on what it means to be a global citizen on a wall of solidarity.
It’s a way for students and faculty to post notes in opposition to recent terrorist attacks such as those in Paris in November which claimed the lives of 130 people.
“We’re inviting everybody to be sharing a positive message to say what Canadians truly stand for and what we truly believe in,” says VIU’s Yalda Ahmadi, Communications Director for VIU International Eduction. “We’re all in this together.”
It’s one of the events helping start the University’s international development week. One with extra poignancy this year as several immigrant families have recently arrived in Nanaimo.
As a practicing Muslim Yalda Ahmadi says she’s trying to dispel some of the misconceptions that people have about the faith.
“I think it’s what people have been hearing in the media and unfortunately the negative things that are happening in the Middle East,” says Ahmadi. “But true Islam is about peace and about humanity.”
The idea of being a global citizen is not foreign at VIU as 12 per cent of the students are international representing 85 countries around the world.
The university is hoping to engage not just students at a number of events this week but people throughout central Vancouver Island.
“On Tuesday we’re holding an event called ‘Stories of Migration’ in which three former refugees are going to be telling their personal stories about how they came to Canada,” says Darrell Harvey, VIU’s International Project Coordinator. “It will be a chance to have a community dialogue about how to create a healthy community for the many Syrian families that are coming right now in the coming weeks.”
The free event is happening at the Vancouver Island Convention Centre at 7pm, Tuesday, February 2nd.
VIU student Lydia Harley is a member of World University Service – an international development group that’s helping bring three refugee students to study at VIU this year.
“When I found out that it sponsored refugees then that just spiked my passion for it,” says Harley on joining. “It just made me more passionate and more involved.”
It’s one of the ways students at VIU are making a tangible difference as global citizens.
If you would like to join the conversation use or follow the discussion at #VIUglobalcitizen