Student Spotlight: Hasan R. Al-Saedi

Bishop’s University students come from all over the world, but did you know that Bishop’s is part of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), also known as the Student Refugee Program (SRP)? Each year, Bishop’s and Champlain Regional College sponsor two refugee students to and come study on our campus. The SRP is one of a kind as it combines resettlement with opportunities for higher education. Bishop’s student Hasan R. Al-Saedi was sponsored in autumn of 2017. He explains that this was a one-of-a-kind opportunity which has not only allowed him to pursue higher education, but has also allowed him to resettle in Quebec.

         Al-Saedi comes from Baghdad, Iraq, and was a refugee in Lebanon before arriving in Canada. “Coming from the Middle East where I was used to it being warm, and the sun was out for around 18 hours a day, winter was challenging at first,” he mentioned. Al-Saedi explained, however, that he asked around for the best methods to deal with the cold Canadian winter, and learned that he could take specific vitamins to help cope with less sunlight, go to the gym or even try out some winter sports. He’s since discovered that he really enjoys snowshoeing.

         Another obstacle Al-Saedi faced was the language barrier. Although he already knew a good amount of English, he did not know much French. He posits that, “coming to Canada in an English community that is in a French province had some challenges.”  During his first summer in Canada, Hasan joined the government-funded Explore program, where he spent five intensive weeks learning French in Rivière-du-Loup.

         In his first year, Al-Saedi tried various clubs to figure out which one he would prefer, whether it was the biology club, the Triathlon club, the pre-med club, or the ice-skating club. Throughout his time at Bishop’s, he has continued to be a part of the SRP and the soccer club, and sometimes returns to the triathlon club for fun.

Al-Saedi is extremely involved in school. He has also partaken in research work at the Université de Sherbrooke and is now a teacher’s assistant in biology at Bishop’s. He has always wanted to be a doctor, but as he explains, “though I am interested in people, I find myself being more interested in things like biology, microbiology or vaccines, so I might be interested in working in pathology.” He is currently pursuing an Honours in Biology and either a major or minor in Biochemistry.

         According to Al-Saedi, Bishop’s is unlike any other university: “You are not just a number here, teachers truly care about you, and will put in the effort to help you. If you go to a professor and let them know you do not understand something, they will go out of their way to help you.” He adds that the students, staff, and professors amaze him almost every week. Whenever he meets someone, he is always surprised by how educated people are and how friendly everyone is. He also states that people on campus are so active and aware of social issues, which in itself is contagious. “After having conversations with friends at BU about social injustices in the world, I always find myself doing more research to learn more about the topics,” he mentioned. Al-Saedi says he has found that there are so many options and opportunities in Canada and at Bishop’s, all of which keep him motivated to keep going.

Discover more of Al-Saedi’s story:

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