A refugee's journey

- November 26, 2015

John Yool’s path to Dalhousie was marked by challenges that few of his fellow students could imagine. Now in the process of earning his second degree at the Faculty of Agriculture, John’s future seems limited only by the bounds of his own imagination.

Born in South Sudan, John fled his home country at the age of eight.

“The war in Sudan had been going on for a long time,” John explains. “My parents had me go to Kenya to escape military recruitment and to escape with my life. But I had to leave them behind.”

Throughout the rest of his childhood, John lived under the care of the United Nations. “The UN was my foster parent, you could say.”

Despite these difficult conditions, John excelled academically and, when he finished high school, applied to the Student Refugee Program at World University Service Canada (WUSC). The program sponsors refugee students who qualify for and wish to attend university in Canada, matching students with appropriate schools and helping them obtain permanent residency status.

John was matched with Dal and has already earned a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics. He chose his program based on his desire to tackle global food challenges.

“Most of the world’s problems will be solved when we have the capability to solve food crises around the world,” he says.

Getting engaged

John believes his background in agriculture will complement his current studies. He is in the first year of Dal’s Bachelor of Engineering program and will study at the Agricultural Campus for two years before moving to Halifax to complete his degree.

As much as he’s enjoyed the academic side of his university experience, John has found just as much value in being part of the Dal community.

 “I’ve really been blessed to be a Dal student,” he says. “Not only do the professors engage you, but the students and the whole Dal community is committed to helping students succeed. I would say that my experience at Dal has been enriched with so many interactions with friends and people from around the world and Canada.

“It is a blast.”

Stories like John’s are among the inspirations behind the Dalhousie Student Refugee Fund (DalSFRF), which launched on November 10. The campaign has already raised $14,000 — with Dal matching every dollar donated — to create two additional placements at the university for refugee students, in collaboration with WUSC.

More information about DalSRF can be found at the projectDal website.


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