Ryerson Alumni - Winter 2018 - 6

GOULD STREET

6

DISRUPTION

For Ryerson President
Mohamed Lachemi
"disruption" best describes
our era. In a sold-out
address to the Economic
Club of Canada last fall,
Lachemi told members of
the business community
that to thrive in a changing
world, students need
"21st-century skills-flexibility,
adaptability, creativity and
problem solving."

well; and it was a challenge
for me, for my wife and my
children as well. They have
to study to change their
language. RULSC helped me
by sponsoring me."-Will Sloan

Ryerson University Magazine / Winter 2018

RESEARCH

Scholar
explores
immigrant
experience
Vathsala Illesinghe, a PhD
candidate in policy studies, has
spent her career researching
violence against women, but
since moving from Sri Lanka to
Canada in 2013, the immigrant
experience has given her work
a broader scope. As one of 15
Canadian doctoral scholars
named as a 2017 Pierre Elliott

Trudeau Foundation Scholar,
she'll explore the intersection
between violence and
immigration policy.
"I've met many immigrant
women who have decided,
now that their lives have
changed, they will adjust their
plans and career paths," said
Illesinghe. "They will become
accustomed to their new life
and work, however precarious
it may be-and as a result,
find themselves in vulnerable
positions, and also remain and
become entrapped in them."
Illesinghe seeks to identify
immigrant and refugee

PHOTOGRAPH (LACHEMI) BRIAN BATISTA BETTENCOURT;
(ILLESINGHE, GREEN, MISHKEL) CLIFTON LI, IMAGE ARTS '12

to support and resettle
displaced Syrians. Launched
with the goal of sponsoring
10 families, RULSC has now
sponsored 437 newcomers
and raised almost $5 million
thanks to a network of more
than 1,000 volunteers
(including students, staff,
faculty, alumni, donors
and community members).
The program has also
become a unique educational
opportunity for student
volunteers from all four
universities. "I'd like to
thank Canada so much for
welcoming us and giving
us hope, especially for the
children," said newcomer
Nabil Hawa, whose family
spent time in refugee camps
before arriving in Toronto.
"We had no certainty back
in Turkey and Lebanon, but
here in Canada, you can make
a future for your children."
"We were living in Lebanon,
and there was no education
or resources - either way, you
would come out of Lebanon
with nothing," said Mahmoud
Al Rassoul, a father of eight.
"I had a choice, but I wanted
to leave Lebanon, because
there is no education and no
future there. They asked
if I wanted to go to Canada,
and I agreed. Everything
changed for my kids."
"I liked Canada the second
I came here," says Ghader
Bsmar, a mother of two.
"I can study and pursue my
goals. When I was back in
Syria, I left high school and
got married. Here, it feels
like I'm important."
RULSC continues to support
Syrian refugees through
volunteer committees offering
translation/interpretation,
financial literacy training,
peer mentoring, tutoring and
employment assistance. "It's a
new life, a new community, a
new society," said Hawa. "You
have challenges; you need to
know the environment very



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