Meet Gerard

From November 1 – 4,2010 Ryerson students will be voting on a referendum that asks, “Do you agree to the creation of an annual fee of $4 to support the WUSC Student Refugee Program at Ryerson starting in September 2011 and indexed thereafter for inflation annually to the CPI for Toronto?” …But what exactly does that mean? This week on the Art of Life we’ll be providing you will all the information you need about WUSC and the Student Refugee Program so that you can make an informed decision when you vote next week. If you have any questions about the referendum, please e-mail so we can find the answers and blog about them. On Monday we talked about what WUSC and the Student Refugee Program are and what they’re trying to accomplish, if you missed this post click here.
Hey fellow Faculty of Arts students!

I hope you found Monday’s post helpful as you start educating yourself and making a decision on how to vote in next week’s WUSC Student Refugee Program Referendum at Ryerson. However, if you’re still unsure we have more information coming your way to make the process easier and it’s not too late to e-mail any questions you have about WUSC, the SRP or the referendum itself so we can answer them on the blog. To get a better idea of how the SRP affects student refugees I talked to Gerard, a second year Faculty of Arts student and one of the first two students sponsored through WUSC Ryerson’s participation in the Student Refugee Program.

Gerard was born in Rawanda but as a result of the political situation had to leave and became a refugee in Kenya. He describes the situation of bright, young refugees in camps as “desperate” because despite their intelligence and desire to succeed they lack access to post-secondary education opportunities. However, Gerard says that the WUSC Student Refugee Program is well-known in refugee camps and “it is inspiring for those smart students who want to better their circumstances through education but can’t afford to otherwise.” Gerard explained to me that it is especially the chance to study and become a permanent resident in Canada that makes it such a valuable opportunity because “Canada’s diversity sets it apart and this makes it a good place for racialized immigrants. Also, it is known for being nice. It is the not only the chance to study but also the chance to be treated equally because in Kenya we were always second or third class citizens.”

When talking about his own experience, Gerard says that because of the WUSC Student Refugee Program “my hope is back.” His expectations of Canada as a welcoming environment were validated; he explained that “People have been nice, I have never been angry here because of discrimination or meanness.” Furthermore, Gerard has been able to pursue his passion for social justice both through his studies and the many opportunities afforded to him on campus. Gerard is an active member of the Ryerson community, which is evidenced by his role as Vice President CSA Social Justice, his active participation with WUSC Ryerson and his time spent as a volunteer tutor with Pathways to Education. Upon graduation Gerard hopes to continue his studies in Teacher’s College. It is Gerard’s hope that by hearing his story you will understand that “For only $4 a year you will bring one student from a refugee camp to Ryerson Campus; I want students to understand what that contribution will mean.”

If you are interested in reading the stories of other student refugees who have been supported by SRP, click here.


Please note that the above story does not represent the views of the Faculty of Arts or Ryerson University.


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