Jan. 30, 2024

Empowering youth for global impact: UCalgary celebrates International Development Week 2024

Take part Feb. 4-10 in initiatives related to sustainability, international development, and inclusivity
A man wearing a black baseball cap takes a selfie in an electronic lab
Jimmy Malith in the ILS Design Lab. Courtesy Jimmy Malith

International Development Week (IDW) is a celebration of Canada's achievements in creating positive change around the world. This year IDW will highlight the key role of youth in shaping our global future. Building on the success of previous years, IDW 2024 calls Canadians to #GoForTheGoals to support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will highlight Canadian contributions in the following key areas: partnerships, gender equality, education, health and climate action.

In the lead-up to IDW, we are excited to highlight upcoming IDW events hosted by UCalgary, and a success story showcasing UCalgary's proactive involvement in championing youth through the World University Services Canada (WUSC) Student Refugee Program (SRP). 

Demonstrating a steadfast commitment to supporting refugees and fostering their seamless integration into our community, UCalgary has played a pivotal role in enabling their success. UCalgary has successfully supported 45 students through initiatives like the Student Union (SU) Refugee Program (41) and the UCalgary WUSC SSE Local Committee (four). 

Our dedication to refugee education not only paves the way for meaningful employment but also empowers a generation to contribute to building a more inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable world.

A man wearing an orange shirt and purple blazer stands outside a building at the UCalgary campus

Ajak David Achiek on campus at UCalgary.

Courtesy Ajak David Achiek

Ajak David Achiek is a first-year engineering student in SSE. He was a refugee in Uganda following the 2013 war which devastated his home, South Sudan. He spent the last 10 years in a refugee camp, the last four without school until WUSC rekindled his hope of acquiring higher education. 

“The special treatment, with love and kindness from the local committee members at UCalgary, by far surpassed my positive expectations of Canada," he says. “I can best describe the impact of my personal experience here as 'positive paradigm shift' pertaining kindness and how to treat everyone. 

“UCalgary, with its local committees, is one of the best places where anyone can be nurtured to experience holistic growth. The regular meetings with the local committee members including our Dean of Engineering give me a strong sense of belonging to a family which is comforting, and I must say that these moments are unforgettable. I have been persuaded beyond any doubt to believe that positive contribution in others’ lives defines a meaningful and purposeful living.”

Jimmy Malith, a second-year electrical engineering student, also grew up in South Sudan. “When it became evident in 2008 that the conditions were not getting any better, my parents made the painful decision to send me to Kenya with my aunt, where my academic journey began as a refugee. 

“It was a hustle learning both Swahili and English at the same time, but I fortunately got a grasp of them and started performing well in school. I was fortunate enough to be among the few that were selected to UCalgary by WUSC in 2022. 

“UCalgary’s population is very diverse, and needless to say that that helped me adapt very fast. People were very nice, too. The SRP volunteer students were very instrumental in helping me know my way around. They were also very helpful whenever I had questions.” 

UCalgary hosts the following events during IDW

Film screening: Women Will Renew – a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) production

This 15-minute film follows two community leaders who hold a powerful vision of finding solutions to problems that involve both climate change and gender inequity in Mwenezi District, Zimbabwe. Women in Zimbabwe are deeply affected by climate change but have little power in their culture to address it. Tariro Cynthia Mutsindikwa, an engineer, and Caroline Pugeni, a project manager, are working together to empower women with clean energy equipment and knowledge — one fuel-efficient stove at a time.

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 6
Time: Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Sustainability Hive

Open for students, staff and faculties — no registration required

Careers in sustainability and international development

Students are invited to connect with industry professionals in the fields of international development and sustainability as they relate to the SDGs. Expect an evening of meaningful career exploration as you rotate through virtual breakout rooms, gaining insights and mentorship regarding your future employment aspirations.

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 6
Time: 4 - 6 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Open for undergraduate and graduate students — register now

Embracing eco emotions: Stories of peace, grief, and reconciliation with the land

Hosted by the Sustainable Development Goals Alliance (SDGA), this story-sharing event will focus on topics related to environmental issues and climate change in terms of sustainable development. The event will seek to create a space for students, faculty, staff, and community members to share experiences relating to the topic and will allow attendees to hear from and speak to others about these experiences. 

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 7
Time: 5 - 7:30 p.m.
Location: MacKimmie Tower, 7th floor, Rooms 701 and 735

Open for students, staff, and faculties — register now

Since 1991, International Development Week is held annually across Canada during the first full week of February and spotlights Canadians' contributions to eradicating poverty and building a more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous world. It's a unique opportunity to inform, inspire, involve, and celebrate Canadians' global impact on international development.

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