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Linking Young Minds Together
 Volume 5 | Issue 35 | September 11, 2011 |


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A warm Home away From Home

Small class sizes, low tuition fees, a beautiful environment and friendly campus atmosphere are just a few of Algoma University's wonderful features especially when it comes to attracting international students to its campus.

Surrounded by the rich, natural beauty of northern Ontario, Algoma is host to over 1,200 students a year, a small university by Canadian standards, and ideal for cultivating an intimate and warm environment. Algoma's international students hail from a wide variety of diverse backgrounds and cultures, yet celebrate their differences and learning from each other. With “inclusion” being one of the key values that the institution prides itself on, the university's website attests; “At Algoma U, every student will find a place to belong”.


Location: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Student Body Population: Approximately 1,200
International Student Scholarships: Awards range between $500 and $2,500
Academic Departments:
Business and Economics
Community Economic & Social Development
Computer Science and Mathematics
English, Fine Arts & Music
History & Philosophy

“Algoma's appeal lies in its close-knit community and small class sizes. For students from Bangladesh travelling overseas on their own for the very first time it's a great fit,” explains Senior Counselor, Khadija Rehma, of the Dhaka-based Canadian University Application Centre.

“In fact,” she continues, “what international students need most is personalized attention be it from professors, friendly familiar faces on campus, or international student services. It really makes a big difference and that's precisely what they find at Algoma. Students cope well with the pressures of academics when they are happy and well settled, and that's what takes them the extra mile. One Algoma student once said to me; 'Each and every one of my professors were not only great teachers, but great mentors as well. There is so much support and affection in the department that you just can't do badly in the exams!'”

With professors who are internationally renowned experts in fields such as Business, Community Development, Economics, Biology, Information Technology, Psychology and Computer Science, Algoma offers a wide range of quality programs for students to choose from. Though it's not just in-class where Algoma students receive extra support.

For international newcomers, special attention and services are given to help students settle in, as well as make the most of their university experience. A full-time International Student Advisor is on staff to provide in-depth orientation programs to new students, as well as to assist throughout the year with any immigration-related manners or study permit renewals.

Students are also encouraged to take part in a range of recreational activities, such as camping, skiing, and hiking, and a variety of cultural events are specially hosted to help students celebrate their own cultures and traditions while at the same time learning about others'. Chinese New Year, Black History Month, and an Eid Feast are just a few of the activities that the school hosts each year.

Other services are specifically available to help support students' individual interests and/or beliefs, including conversation partners for students who would like to improve their English language skills, a Muslim prayer room, international film nights, and the Algoma Multicultural Students Association, or AMSA, which is an organisation run by international students. Particularly for students looking to get more directly involved in their school community, Algoma's small size makes it a perfect place to do so.

To learn more about attending Algoma University or another Canadian institution be sure to visit www.canada123.org. Or drop by the Canadian University Application Centre ('CUAC') office located in the Hosna Centre on Gulshan. The CUAC holds its second annual Canadian university education fair at The Westin Dhaka on Friday, October 28th. A dozen university representatives from Canada will be in Dhaka, ready to answer all your questions with typical Canadian helpfulness. This special event is by INVITATION ONLY, so if interested to attend, please email dhaka@canada123.org, or phone 02-8826445.
CUAC Education Fair
WHEN: Friday, 28th October - 12 noon to 7 pm
WHERE: The Westin Hotel, Gulshan 2, Dhaka
PARTICIPATING UNIVERSITIES: Victoria, Winnipeg, Algoma, Guelph, Windsor, Saint Mary's, Confederation College, Sault College.
*** BY INVITATION ONLY. Contact the CUAC for your personal invite.


Earfan Sarder
Jhalakati, Bangladesh
AGE: 31
B.Sc (Computer Science), 2007 Graduate
Technical Support Specialist - Healthcare

He first arrived in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario during the fall of 2002. Then, Bangladeshi student Earfan Sarder began his Algoma University experience with a semester-long ESL (English as a Second Language) programme. After improving his English skills and settling into the new environment, he then moved on to study Computer Science, and immediately became known as an eager participant.

“Right from the beginning Earfan was involved in Algoma life,” remembers Professor Joanne Elvy. “Firstly, he worked in our library for the summer, and then he was an assistant for the ESL department to provide cultural activities and support for incoming students. He learned quickly the significance of the phrase "taking initiative", and from that point on simply rolled up his sleeves to be actively engaged with all facets of campus life from being a positive role model whenever he was involved in group work and group projects for his studies, to providing support to other incoming Bangladeshi students. I think one of the key reasons he became so successful, was that he didn't limit his surroundings (ie: his circle of friends) to those within the Bangladeshi community rather, he became a friend to many. Including me!”

That's not to say Earfan wasn't a friendly and common face amongst the other Bangladeshi students, however. In fact, far from it!

“We Bangladeshi guys were able to bring our culture to the campus,” Earfan remembers fondly, “and established the tradition of a yearly Eid dinner to invite all students and staff. Also, every week we were playing cricket in the gym even in the wintertime.”

Even today, Earfan says he still considers Algoma as his “home in Canada.”

“It's a small but well-organised 'community',” he explains, “so I had the opportunity to build up my experiences and as well my personal growth, and I met a lot of people from all over the world.”

But it wasn't all just fun and games. Earfan was also a serious student and jumped at the chance to take part in the university's co-op (or cooperative learning) programme allowing him to gain 'real world' work experience even while he was still at school.

Before classes start at Algoma University, new international students are invited for a special, two-week long orientation programme, offered free of charge.

“I was trying very hard to get myself involved with any and every activity that I could. So after a semester of skill development, I became a co-op student and worked with Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC) for a year and half in their IT-Asset Management department. I was well paid, receiving more than a basic salary, and I could feel independent and proud that I had a position related to my career direction. I kept my eyes and ears open to fit into a Canadian office environment in all ways, and the co-op position also gave me good feedback on how to improve."

It was an experience that, Earfan says, greatly helped him to obtain permanent employment post-graduation.

“Definitely this gave a boost to my career,” he explains. “After my graduation, I moved to Calgary [Western Canada] where I was invited for 28 job interviews within one month! So you can see that me working in the school and co-op really gave me the opportunity to learn about Canadian culture, how to present myself, different kinds of workplaces, while all the time using and practicing leading edge Information Technology. Not just studying it in a book, but actually using it in practice. I really believe all those opportunities enriched my professional skills and experiences in preparation for my career.”

What is Earfan's advice for other Bangladeshi students considering Algoma? Besides focusing on studies (which is of course number one), Earfan encourages new international students to get involved with school and social activities as much as possible.

“Learn about the culture,” he urges, “and just don't isolate yourself. In Canada, the language, education, culture, food, and weather will all be very, very different, and being away from family can be very hard but if you are open enough to step out and make new friends, Algoma's experienced and kindly staff and friendly faculty will never let you feel like you are away from your family. People will know your name and you can feel like you belong.”

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