by Hani Yassine
The Lance – Arts Editor
It was shortly before 9 a.m. when a school bus parked itself outside Vanier Hall carrying youths from diversified backgrounds.
The Faculty of Science welcomed 40 youth members of Windsor’s immigrant and refugee community to engage in a career exploration day Mar. 16. The day began inside Katzman Lounge when the kids registered to participate in the day. From there on, they toured around the campus and partook in a variety of scientific courses including chemistry, earth and environmental, cancer biology and computer science.
“The key is to help with their career choices,” said Dr. Zian Kobti, who directs the computer science program and also acted as a tour guide for the day. “They go together as a group in one section, so in the process they get to see the university with a tour, and also get hands-on experience.”
While the Faculty of Science has rolled out the welcome before, this is the first time they’ve collaborated with the local YMCA in making the project happen. Kobti said the collaboration stemmed from the two parties connecting during a previous university-hosted event.
Fifteen-year old Mareo Dayh was one of the youth present. Born in Iraq, he has lived in Canada for the past couple of years, and has been engaged with YMCA’s English learning program.
“I want to know how the university works,” Dayh said about the field trip. “I usually go to the youth centre for the YMCA, and they told us about the trip.”
Recruiting the youth for the event was the YMCA’s key role according to Hugo Vega, the organization’s general manager of settlement and community services. When it comes to newcomers with permanent residency, the YMCA aims to get the people situated when it comes to settlement and mainstream concerns, such as health care. Four volunteer members of the Y accompanied the trip as liaisons while others served as translators.
Vega ultimately hopes the kids walk away with a priority on university education, as well as keeping in mind the welcome mat is there to stay.
“The university was the one that initiated this,” Vega said. “They’re opening the doors and saying we want to engage, we want you to be part of this institution. This I think is the biggest thing.”