Sheridan crystallized its commitment to global citizenship this year through the launch of its Internationalization and Global Connectivity Strategy. Our diverse international student population contributes to the vibrancy of our campus communities and enriches the learning experience for all students. From welcoming refugee student athletes, to supporting international students during remote learning in the pandemic, and working with government and community partners on system-wide solutions, Sheridan is ensuring all international learners can reach their potential.
From Tokyo to Trafalgar Road: How three refugee Olympic athletes found themselves at Sheridan
In July 2021, as people around the world prepared to cheer on their country’s athletes at the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Sheridan community prepared to cheer on three remarkable Olympic runners: Rose Nathike Likonyen, James Nyang Chiengjiek and Paulo Amotun Lokoro. These world-class athletes – and two-time members of the Refugee Olympic Team – would be joining Sheridan as students and permanent Canadian residents in the fall, following the Games.
The global refugee crisis has a disproportionate effect on youth. The Student Refugee Program (SRP) at Sheridan, in partnership with the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), has played an important role in providing a path to safety and resettlement in Canada for refugees since 2016. Sheridan is deeply committed to responding meaningfully to global and local (glocal) concerns and opportunities. Intentional ‘glocal’ impact is a key pillar in Sheridan’s Internationalization and Global Connectivity Strategy and is one of our unique strengths.
The program provides students who have been displaced by war or other events with a path to a better future by combining resettlement with postsecondary education. Students seeking resettlement via the student refugee stream are supported by WUSC from selection through placement.
Likonyen, Chiengjiek and Lokoro are part of a new athletic pilot stream of sponsorship that will create opportunities for refugee athletes to resettle in a safe third country. The three athletes are originally from South Sudan but have spent many years living and training in a refugee camp in Kenya.
Following their competition at the Olympic Games, Likonyen, Chiengjiek and Lokoro arrived in Oakville in August 2021 and began the process of building their new lives. They have been supported by Sheridan’s local committee, a group of dedicated Sheridan employees who play a crucial role in the sponsorship of refugee students and in their success after they arrive. The local committee provides critical day-to-day social and academic support to SRP students as they acclimate to their new home.
“Education is transformational. We believe in the value of postsecondary education for all and the power of working collectively to support one another. As global citizens, we have obligations and opportunities to live our values and the SRP is a perfect opportunity to do so.”
- Maria Lucido-Bezely, Dean of Students.
Six months into their new life in Canada, Likonyen, Chiengjiek and Lokoro continue to work through their Academic Upgrading courses which will help bridge them into the academic programs of their choice. Staff are supporting the students to help identify their strengths and interests, and the associated pathway to their chosen programs.
The students are currently training three days each week. Competition season begins with indoor provincial championships and then moves into outdoor season as they work towards world championships. They are developing a camaraderie with the other varsity runners and have assisted some of them with pacing and strategies.
In April 2022, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi visited Rose Nathike, Paulo Amotun, and James Nyang at Sheridan’s Trafalgar Road Campus.
Student Refugee Program by the numbers:
students to date
The first year that Sheridan participated in the SRP
Creating new opportunities for international students through remote learning
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the learning experiences for many international students, but for TESOL Plus (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) graduate Shweta Shweta, remote learning has boosted education and career prospects in ways never imagined.
“It turned out that taking courses online suited my lifestyle because I had more energy to focus on my studies and complete my assignments,” she explains. With remote learning, Shweta could access a large virtual network of students and teach them from anywhere in the world, allowing her to hone her skills as an ESL instructor.
Coming together to support international students in Brampton
To help international students transition to life in Canada, Sheridan and the City of Brampton convened a Roundtable in December 2021 to bring together like-minded community organizations with the the goal of making Brampton a best-practice leader in supporting international learners..
In January 2022, the Roundtable — which includes multiple community partners from across the region — unanimously endorsed a literature review of 129 works that highlights international students’ experiences and recommendations for action to improve their quality of life in Canada.
A summit in summer 2022 will further identify gaps, barriers and trends, facilitate and engage in discussion with community groups and garner best practices that can be applied to the Brampton context. Sheridan is proud to provide $50,000 in seed funding to organize the effort. Guard.me International Insurance, a long-time supporter of international learners studying in Canada, has also committed $50,000.
United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals
Last year, Sheridan became Ontario’s first institution to sign the SDG Accord, the postsecondary sector’s collective international response to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 Global Goals were adopted by countries around the world in 2015 as a means to guide global action on the urgent social, economic and environmental challenges facing our planet. Which goals do the stories on this page advance? See below.