A team from the University of Waterloo recently completed a visit to Zimbabwe and East Africa with the goal of establishing local connections and helping to showcase the University’s distinguished scholarship, teaching excellence and ground-breaking research and innovation.

Leading this team was Dr. Christopher S. Taylor, associate vice-president, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism (EDI-RO), who was accompanied by Akua Amin-Asare, international recruitment specialist and Karuna Ausman, international marketing and recruitment specialist in the Registrar’s Office.

The group joined several other Canadian educational institutions as part of a roadshow, organized by the Vancouver based Illume Student Advisory Services Ltd. They visited several educational institutions in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Mauritius, where they engaged with prospective students and their parents, as well as representatives from the schools.

The AVP, EDI-RO, who is also an assistant professor of History, said that many of the groups which he connected with expressed surprise at seeing a member of a marginalized group in a leadership position at a large Canadian university.

“The reception our team received was outstanding,” he said. “Many remarked that it was exhilarating to see someone who looked like them, someone who understood firsthand the unique challenges that they would face as international students in Canada, and someone with the capacity to advocate for proper supports to be available to help them thrive after they are admitted.”

Dr. Taylor said Africa can be a challenging territory for admissions teams to navigate. A lack of financial resources may limit widespread student mobility from African countries relative to other regions, however, he believes that the continent’s growing youth population, up-and-coming economy and hunger for innovative entrepreneurial education make it a promising recruitment market for Waterloo.

"In the entrepreneurial space, African nations are in the midst of a sort of innovation renaissance,” he said. “The continent has one of the youngest populations in the world, a rapidly growing economy and a healthy ecosystem of tech start-ups. Since one of Waterloo’s impact themes is developing talent for a complex future, it makes sense to cater to the huge demand for innovative education and research.”

Christopher Taylor with six high shcool students

Dr. Taylor recognizes and celebrates existing recruitment efforts being made in the African continent and looks to forward to working collaboratively with senior administrators to further develop welcoming communities for students, faculty and alums from Africa. 

Dr. Taylor also looks forward to facilitating pathways for further collaboration between educators and scholars to learn from the growing entrepreneurial eco-system in Africa and to assist in developing it. He hopes to work with both the Registrar’s office and Waterloo International to embark on a West African tour in the upcoming year.

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