‘An enriching personal and academic experience’
As part of a new international partnership, a group of 24 students from Jazan University (JU), located on the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, is spending two months this summer studying at Concordia’s Centre for Continuing Education (CCE).
From June 18 to August 16, the CCE is offering JU’s top students an intensive web programming session, complemented with English classes and sociocultural activities.
“This program is of great value to the students — an enriching personal and academic experience,” says Brenda Grant, administrator curriculum development at CCE. “For many of them, this is their first time traveling to the west.”
Like most of the participants, Essam Osais, 22, will soon be starting his fourth year at JU. “I tried hard to raise my GPA to study here,” he says. “Not everyone has this opportunity. It was my dream.”
One of the biggest challenges the students had to overcome was culture shock. Osais, however, says his experience has been very positive. “I like how people connect with us, and the university makes us feel comfortable, asking us how we’re doing every two or three days.”
This new CCE initiative was designed to respond to Jazan University’s specific needs.
JU wanted to see its students thrive in an academic and culturally stimulating environment like the one cultivated at Concordia. It asked the CCE if it would welcome the international students and support them educationally, as well as personally.
In response to this request, the CCE set up a variety of sociocultural activities. Every Saturday, the students explore Montreal and nearby destinations during planned excursions; so far, they’ve visited the Old Port, Ottawa and Mont-Tremblant.
The group is staying in Concordia’s Grey Nuns Residence (GN). They have a halal meal plan, and were supported when during Ramadan, which ran from June 8 to July 17 this year.
Osais says his first visit to North America has been a big success. He’d like to return to do his master’s degree.
"But I'm a bit scared about the winter,” he says. “During our winters in Saudi Arabia, the temperature goes down to 29 degrees Celsius and everybody is cold! I can't even imagine what it's like here."