The #WUSCSomeGoodNews initiative features stories of positivity and hope of people who are making a difference in Canada and around the world, particularly during this pandemic.
Meet Alice Ishimwe, e-volunteer and WUSC Local Committee member at McGill University. As the volunteer Durable Solutions Officer, Alice is currently facilitating the pre-departure program for 18 refugee students who will be arriving in Canada from Malawi and Tanzania through our Student Refugee Program.
Alice met several newcomer students through her engagement with the Local Committee. After hearing their stories, she knew she wanted to take on an additional role and make a difference.
“I was fascinated by their journeys of resilience and success that I partially related to, having come to Canada from a different country myself a few years ago. At that time, I was not prepared [for] life in Canada, but I was so lucky to connect with a friend who showed me the ropes within my first few weeks. I wanted to be that person for the incoming students and share my knowledge and available resources with them.”
Due to COVID-19, Alice has had to undertake her role from a distance. Initially she was concerned about the ways she would be able to provide support online, but together with the students, she has been able to set up innovative ways to share information and support their upcoming integration in Canada.
“Students receive materials to review in small groups and “meet ” with me weekly or biweekly via Whatsapp to discuss what they learnt, and ask questions. We also use short video clips and pictures where I show them how things work in Canada. This is my favourite part of my assignment. We call it #FunFactSunday. We’ve done things like a typical shopping experience at Walmart and in a mall, how to order a meal or a coffee at Tim Hortons drive through service, how to operate a washing machine, what to expect at an airport and so on!”
“I believe this program contributes highly at giving young people in vulnerable settings great hope for the future that they wouldn’t otherwise have in their country of asylum…My job consists of equipping these students with as many tools as possible to successfully integrate in Canada and I have no doubt that they will do just that and more!”