By September 2017, Thompson Rivers University is expected to have its first refugee student on campus thanks to the work of World University Service of Canada (WUSC) club members on campus, a campaign two years in the making.
“We have enough to sponsor a student. It is official. Coming September we will have a student refugee coming through the program. But we won’t know for a little while from where exactly students are coming or what they’ll be studying,” said Jasmine McMillen, a WUSC TRU co-chair and bachelor of social work student.
The funding that pushed the group over the edge came from WUSC itself and another WUSC club that offered some of the funds it raised.
“We’re just excited to have that opportunity to bring someone here and make that difference in their lives,” McMillen said.
Since July 2016, WUSC has been trying to bring a student refugee to campus by hosting a number of fundraisers. Before this most recent donation, the group had raised about $7,000 for this initiative over their two years of work. McMillen said that raising this amount of money required very hard work, and they’re still in need for more money.
According to WUSC, it takes about $25,000 to sponsor a student refugee for one year. Through the student refugee program, student-led groups sponsor refugee students from around the world to study at their universities in Canada.
“TRU has such a huge international community, and I think we’re always boosting that. But there [are] over 60 universities that are already having this program in place, and we don’t yet have it. To me, it’s more an obvious missing piece to TRU,” she said.
Next year, WUSC TRU is planning to work with TRUSU and work with students to gain their support. While other universities fund their student refugees through a levy that all students pay, there’s no such student fee at TRU, so the program isn’t sustainable.
McMillen is hoping to gain student support and work to implement a levy.
Students are welcomed to join the club, and club member Aria Kornas said it’s been a great learning experience for her.
“I’m an international student, and I do care about refugees’ issues and international development. So I joined and I’ve been with the club for over a year now. I love it,” Kornas said.
Currently, the student refugee program is based on student donations and support.
“There are multiple ways you can get involved with the club. You can follow our Facebook page and message us. We meet every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in the lecture hall, so you can also come to our meetings, or you can message one of the members,” Kornas said.
Those looking for more information can write to firstname.lastname@example.org, and those looking to donate can visit the TRU Foundation web page.