Local Committee of the Year Award
2021-2022 WINNER: SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY
The Simon Fraser University or “SFU” Local Committee has been part of the WUSC network since 1981 and in that time has sponsored over 90 students through WUSC’s Student Refugee Program. SFU welcomes 6 students every year, making them one of the largest sponsors in the country. In 2021, as a response to the crisis in Afghanistan, SFU committed to sponsoring an additional 2 students who they welcomed in 2022. This mobilization of funds demonstrates the SFU Local Committee’s strong partnerships with administrative offices on campus.
SRP students who go to SFU not only have an enriching academic experience, but also enter into a warm and welcoming environment where they can learn the skills they need to succeed. During the 2021-2022 school year where not all activities were able to resume in person, the Local Committee found ways to support and engage SRP students online like through game nights and activities. When in-person activities were allowed, the Local Committee prioritized social engagement by going on trips to local nature attractions.
In the 2021-2022 year, the SFU Local Committee improved the initial settlement support provided to SRP students. They held workshops on food and nutrition, financial literacy, housing options, career building, and mental health. In addition to weekly workshops, they developed an online course that SRP students can continually access to improve these life skills.
Activities organized to support SRP students’ social integration doubled as opportunities for the Local Committee members to build their team and feel more connected. The SFU Local Committee is largely student-led, with many SRP alumni joining the Local Committee after they settle in Canada. The committee benefits from significant support by Wafaa Zaqout, a staff member in the International Student Services department, who plays a key role in mentoring both SRP students and Local Committee members. The Local Committee also built an online course for Local Committee members to help train them and improve transition as members graduate.
The Simon Fraser University Local Committee also held several public engagement events during the 2021-2022 school year. They hosted online panels with refugee advocates and activities from Canada and globally, movie and discussion nights, and participated in guest lectures in the SFU Faculty of Health Sciences to promote awareness about refugees and to recruit more volunteers for the Local Committee.
The Local Committee has also had an impact on SFU students outside the SRP, but aligned with WUSC’s values. The Local Committee partnered with the SFU Student Society to establish a scholarship to support students with a refugee background and black students, recognizing the additional challenges these groups face to accessing post-secondary education.
Congratulations, Simon Fraser University Local Committee!