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It is International Education Week (IEW). The University of Waterloo celebrates IEW with more than 100 countries around the world. When graduating from Waterloo, never in a million years would I have predicted that I would be writing an UWaterloo article from Australia.
I was raised and educated in Canada but I ended up living in Sydney, Australia within 3-4 years after graduating from Waterloo. Did I think I would stay in Australia? No. But who can foresee where their life will take them.
I love living in Australia. I have made it my home and I carry both Australian and Canadian citizenship. I bridge two cultures, similar but different. I still have turkey at Christmas (even though Christmas is in the middle of summer). I also go to the 5:00 a.m. ANZAC service in April (like Remembrance Day) and I barrack for Australia when the Aussies play at international events. I am not schizophrenic; I am a dual citizen with a foot in both camps!
I have a friend here who went to Queen’s University and a few years ago he volunteered to help his fellow university alumni living in Sydney. That is when it struck me that I could help Waterloo. So I became a University of Waterloo Global Ambassador, living in Australia.
Now I stay connected to Waterloo all the way from Australia. But what do I do? In my spare time, I help people who are relocating to Australia, giving them some hints and pointers. My role is not to organise events, but to help alumni adjust to their new location and feel like they can get the inside scoop on where to look for things. I can even tell them where to find Crisco or Bounce sheets for the dryer in Australia!
We have over 400 alumni in Australia and it is growing!
While I live in Australia, do I meet people from Waterloo? Yes, outside of my Ambassador role, I have fallen across many people (not literally) in my time here…..
- I met one lady from Waterloo (Arts) on a project I was on in 1997 in Sydney and she and I became great friends. I was at her wedding and see her very often – her kids are now at school!
- I met one lady from my small Actuarial Class when we were both attending the same Annuities conference in Sydney. I didn’t even know she was in the country!
- I met another fellow from my class on the train crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- I met one fellow from Waterloo (Math) on a project I was on in 2007. In fact, on our small team of 5 people, 3 of us had a Waterloo connection!
I would say I accidently meet 1 or 2 Waterloo grads a year in my day to day work life. And because of my Ambassador role, I have connected with many more UWaterloo alumni either face to face or electronically. I have even nominated one notable Science graduate for an Alumni award!
Moving overseas can be daunting, so I hope that serving as a Global Ambassador is a way to give back to the University, to make life a little bit easier when making the big trans-Pacific move.