Here, I Am Human

We are all human. We all want a chance for a fulfilling life. We all deserve to be treated fairly and equally. The World University Service of Canada (WUSC) Student Refugee Program aims to make this happen by supporting, empowering, and providing life-changing opportunities to refugees in countries all across the world. Grebel students pay $20 a term as a part of their residence fees to provide six terms of housing at the College for a WUSC student. “It’s through conversation, story-telling, laughter, and tears that we have been able to learn from and with Grebel’s WUSC students over the years,” said Rebekah DeJong, Student Life and Recruitment Coordinator. “Walls are torn down, bridges built, and friendships are formed. WUSC students have helped us learn about ourselves and others, and are a gift to Grebel. We are thrilled to have them here.”

Reema arrives at the airportReema arrives at the airport 

This year, the Grebel community was excited to welcome Reema Alhamad into the family. Reema is a bright young woman filled with hopes and dreams—a person who sees a light even on the darkest of days. She grew up in Syria, but the war forced her family to flee to Jordan, where they were caged into a disconsolate refugee camp. Life was rough and miserable, but she found joy and happiness by helping others in need. “When you give something good, it will come back to you someday,” said Reema. And good things truly did happen.

The hardest part of Reema’s journey was leaving her family behind, but she found a way to hope—she would help her family leave the refugee camp and join her in Canada. The plane ride was long and difficult, but she knew she had done the right thing. “When I arrived in my new room, I found many letters from the students,” she said. “I was so happy and although I spent two weeks in quarantine, I never felt alone. Every day someone called to check if I was okay.”

Grebel became her home, and the community, her family. “Grebelites are so kind. Everyone spends time together and helps each other. I feel safe, and every morning when I see these people I feel so lucky to be a member of this family.” Her favourite part of the College is the kitchen and the kitchen staff who allow her share her recipes and cook her Syrian dishes with them. “At Grebel, whatever your beliefs, you will find your place and someone to support you.”

After she completes UWaterloo’s Bridge to Academic Success in English program, Reema is looking forward to studying Medicinal Chemistry. Helping others has always been a passion of hers, and by studying how drugs and medicines work, she hopes that one day she can research and discover new treatments.

reema with friendsReema is getting to know other Grebelites over meals, virtual events, and socially distanced walks.

“Coming to Canada did not change my life, it actually gave me one,” reflected Reema. “As a refugee in Jordan, I was not allowed to work and living in the camp was literately like living in a human cage. I did not have any rights and could not even plan for my future. Here I can dream, and I can work to develop myself. Here I can learn and I can teach. Here I am human.”