Photo by Whitehorse Star
Abdullah Alaboud (or “Abed”, as he prefers to be known) is settling into Yukon College campus life and learning to cope with the cooler temperature of his new home.
Alaboud, 23, has immigrated to Canada through the World University Service Canada (WUSC) Student Refugee Program.
The college students and employees have raised $20,000 over the past year to help support Alaboud in his first year as a permanent resident in Canada.
Alaboud arrived in Whitehorse late on the evening of Aug. 25.
He had travelled 40 hours from Beirut, Lebanon, where he has lived over the past three years with his parents and seven younger siblings. Alaboud is the eldest son.
“I have mixed feelings,” he said in a statement today.
“I am here to start a new life, a completely new life, by myself, in Canada. I have not done this before.
“I am excited, surprised and afraid. I am grateful too—the people here are kind and lovely, despite the cold.”
Alaboud heard about the WUSC program in early 2017.
He took an English assessment test, then studied English for three semesters at the American University in Beirut so he could practise speaking, writing and reading English every day.
He was accepted into the WUSC program in September 2017 and began the process of emigrating to Canada. Only in June did he learn Yukon College was his destination.
“I began university studies first in Syria, then in Lebanon—five years so far, and all I have to show for it is a certificate in project management,” Alaboud said.
“There have been too many interruptions due to the war in Syria and then the emigration process.”
Alaboud is now enrolled in the college’s Multimedia certificate program. He hopes to begin a career in graphic design and digital marketing and eventually own his own business.
The college’s WUSC committee is publicly thanking several organizations for supporting the student refugee program through cash or in-kind donations.
Those include the college and its students and staff, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Yukon Regional Youth Committee, the PSAC Yukon Area Council, the Yukon College Student Union, and PSAC/YEU Local Y011 (Yukon College).
Also helping out were Islamic Relief Canada, the Rotary and Rendezvous Rotary Clubs of Whitehorse, and donors who attended fundraising events.
The WUSC works with the federal government, the UN Refugee Agency and overseas partners to assist with immigration screening, processing applications, selecting students and preparing them for life in Canada.
Applicants must be recognized as a refugee by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They can only apply from the asylum countries of Kenya, Malawi, Jordan, Lebanon and Malaysia.
From hundreds of applications, an average of 130 students between the ages of 18 and 25 are selected annually.
Eighty-three Canadian colleges and universities have welcomed more than 1,800 sponsored student refugees under the 40-year-old WUSC program.
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