On Jan. 25, Mt. A’s World University Service of Canada (WUSC) Student Refugee Program (SRP) held a wine and cheese event at Cranewood Bakery to raise funds. The group sponsors student refugees from asylum countries, providing them with the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education at Mt. A and gain permanent residency status.
The SRP is funded through a combination of contributions from the University, a student levy, fundraising events held by the SRP group, faculty donations and University service grants from Mt. A.
On the topic of raising funds, Andrew Moreira, a Mt. A student and the president of WUSC-MTA said, “The greatest challenge … is volatility in student numbers, because so much of our budget is reliant on the student levy.”
The local campus-based WUSC committees raise any necessary funds and awareness for the program and provide social and integration support to SRP students upon their arrival. They help students navigate the Canadian post-secondary system, orient them to the campus and local community, and involve them in social activities and events.
In the spring, the SRP usually receives a number of student profiles from the WUSC and decides in coordination with Mt. A admissions which student will fit best in the University and the rural atmosphere in general.
“We only [accept] one student, but the ones we don’t choose are placed in other Canadian universities,” Moreira said.
Julia Campbell, a student pursuing her master’s degree at Mt. A, said, “The wine and cheese event in support of the refugee program was a great evening. Not only was it a lot of fun, but also a great event to support.”
Campbell added that “Mount Allison has provided me with many opportunities, and so attending this event meant that I was able to make a small contribution towards future students who may have a similar positive experience.”
Moreira said he joined the SRP committee because he “wanted to work in a humanitarian or international development club and [he] saw that the SRP had a strong program which was very focused on the people it services.”
Given the lack of funds, the committee sponsors one student every two years, but according to Moreira the group’s goal for the past two years has been to get to a financial position where they become able to sponsor a student every year.
“I believe the attendance of this event can really make a difference in the amount of refugee students Mount Allison is able to support in future years to come,” Campbell concluded.