The April 17 edition of the Waterloo Region Record featured a front-page story focused on international students at Conestoga and the unique challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The piece highlighted that most students from abroad are isolated from families thousands of miles away, and in addition to worrying about how their loved ones are faring, international students are also worried they may not be able to find or keep part-time jobs they need to pay big bills. Scot Wyles, president of Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI), said he has also heard from international students who fear the pandemic will strip income from their families back home and put their studies in Canada at risk.
Both CSI and the college have seen the impact this pandemic continues to have on all students. A number of initiatives have been established to provide support, including the COVID-19 Student Relief Bursary and a grocery gift card program sponsored by Conestoga and CSI to alleviate food insecurities -- more than 3,600 students have applied and been approved for cards through the program. CSI is also working to provide international students with free access to an online health platform to connect with nurses and physicians, and partial refunds are being offered for certain college fees.
In the Record story, Gunjan Sharma -- a Conestoga journalism student from New Delhi, India -- said she is trying to keep things together, and although she misses her family, she thinks the pandemic is helping her become more resilient.
“It’s scary,” said Sharma. “But we’re all in this together.”