Posted on May 7, 2010 by Tia Lalani

Nhial Tiitmamer speaks to several students who come from afar about what it’s like to be at Augustana.

By Nhial Tiitmamer –

International students from more than 25 countries call the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus home. The campus provides an intimate sense of community that students do not often find at larger campuses.

“I like the fact that most people are friendly at Augustana. This makes it easier for international students to feel that they are at home, away from home,” said Linda Owino, a first-year international student from Kenya. Linda said that a place in which one feels welcome is a place to be.

“Nothing is better, to me, than a place you can always find love, comfort and people to understand you,” she said. “When you reach your lowest moments, they are always there to lift you up and help you carry on. This is a place where you know you can always turn to people without feeling awkward or weird. That is the kind of environment I have found at Augustana, my home away from home.”

One of Linda’s most memorable learning experiences was through Augustana’s Community Service-Learning program when she participated in an environmental science project in Camrose.

“It was overwhelming at the beginning, since we had to organize events, advertise them and make sure that local people attended,” she said. “I had just joined campus from another country, and there I was, looking for speakers whom I didn’t even know to come present to the local people I had not even bonded with.” She found the project interesting for the things she learned and the new people she met and worked with.

Linda’s interest to study abroad developed when she was 12 years old. “What started as a normal conversation led to my aunt presenting me with the links about international universities. I fell in love with University of Alberta from the moment I searched to know more about it,” she said. Her dream was realized when she joined the university at the beginning of winter semester this year.

Carlo Martin, a second year philosophy major who is originally from the Philippines, said he likes Augustana because of its small class size and interaction with professors. Carlo has also been actively involved in the vibrant campus community and was recently elected as Vice President of the Augustana Students’ Association for the 2010/11 academic year. “Augustana has met my expectations so far,” he said.

Sandra Gawad from Egypt was caught by surprise at Augustana by the sense of community she has felt since she arrived here two years ago. “I was surprised at how everyone knew each other,” she said. “I know all my professors: asking them for help is not a big deal.” Sandra is happy to know amazing people, who she has taught – and learned – about themselves and the places they come from.

On top of Sandra’s list of most memorable learning experiences at Augustana is her biology class field trip to Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. “For me it was a whole new look at Alberta. I saw the mountains, the museum, and on top of that I get to learn more about evolution,” she said.

Sandra reminisces about that most Canadian of sports: curling. “I never knew that a sport could be so challenging and fun at the same time,” she said. “It gave me a whole new look at curling and curlers.” Sandra was elected as the international students’ representative to sit on the Augustana Students’ Council next year. A biology major, Sandra will sometimes be volunteering this summer for Augustana’s developmental biology professor Dr. Tomislav Terzin on his biodiversity research project.

The kind of learning experience that students find here is a product of Augustana’s founding principle, which states that “personal wholeness emerges from a liberal education, that the proper end of leadership is service to others, and that the spirit of cooperation so crucial to rural life invigorates human endeavor.”

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