When Khaled Albusairi came to Canada from Kuwait to begin his university education in 2009, he was pretty much on his own. There was little support and guidance available to him along the way as he moved to Canada, learned English, studied for a BSc in chemistry and then applied to dental school.
That is why Khaled, currently in his third year of Dentistry studies at Dal, became one of the founding members of the National Union of Kuwaiti Students in Canada (NUKS) in 2013. Now with around 350 members and branches in Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, as well as Halifax, NUKS’s mission is to be a resource for Kuwaiti students coming to Canada to study and help them make the transition to a new country and a new culture.
In May, Khaled was elected the national chair of the non-profit organisation.
“We direct students to sources of information, organise activities, celebrate National Kuwaiti Day, hold an annual conference with speakers, and generally try to provide a Kuwaiti environment outside Kuwait,” says Khaled.
NUKS also organises a reception and dinner in Kuwait each July to meet with new students who will be travelling to Canada and explain what the environment and culture are like here.
One of Khaled’s aims for his year as chair is to bring all Kuwaiti students — those who are government-sponsored and those who come on their own — under one umbrella so that they all have access to the same resources.
Already NUKS has made a “huge difference.” New students feel supported, Khaled says, and that helps to ensure that they stay and are successful in getting their degrees.
In addition to helping students, this year one of NUKS Canada’s activities was to fundraise for the Red Cross to help those affected by the fire in Fort McMurray. And Khaled hopes to build a network of local representatives in the branches across the country.
“We need to recruit more leaders so that NUKS will continue into the future,” he says.
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