It’s been a year since Priyanka Sharma has seen her husband.
A resident of the Gujarat State in India, the 24-year-old has aspirations to work abroad as a software developer.
China’s Tian Tian Liu, 24, also dreamed of working abroad, hoping to unlock new doors that would otherwise be closed in her homeland.
Emmauel Teberan, 27, of Delta State, Nigeria, aspires to one day serve as a network administrator for a major Information Technology (IT) company.
They come from vastly different backgrounds, but their path has led them all to the same place — Lambton College.
They travelled a combined 31,408 kilometres from their respective homelands to study in Sarnia. That’s roughly six times the distance of Canada from coast to coast.
The trio is among 380 international students on Lambton’s campus, with another 3,500 enrolled at overseas campuses in China, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.
“The growth we’ve experienced over the past three years has been significant,” says Chris Slade, Dean, International Studies, Lambton College. “It’s been a delight for both staff and our local students to interact with our international students as they walk our halls every day. Increasingly, I chat with people out in the community who have taken notice of the international faces out and about in the community. We’re very proud of our growing community.”
Sharma says it was a tough decision to leave her husband Bhavesh and family behind, but the opportunity to come to Lambton and strengthen her English and work abroad was too good to pass up.
“I wanted to grow in the IT field,” she says. “To work for a foreign company I needed to get here to study.
Enrolled in Lambton’s Information Technology and Web Design two-year post-graduate program, she admits it’s been hard on her emotionally but she is working to get her husband a visitor visa.
Teberen says coming to Canada was a culture shock. He’d never experienced snow before enduring what was one of the coldest winters in recent memory this past year.
He learned about Lambton College from a former classmate that attended after a stint at Lambton’s affiliated university in Nigeria.
“I didn’t want a lot of distractions and (Lambton) had small class sizes,” he says of his decision to attend.
To travel such a great distance, he says his family was most concerned about ensuring the school and community would offer a safe atmosphere.
“Lambton has a good environment for education. There’s a great learning environment and we have access to infrastructure, access to computers, access to books. The college’s international studies office provides us with access to everything we need.”
Comes September Teberan will begin a 16-month coop placement with a company in Fort McMurray.
“This opportunity would not have existed back home.”
Liu, who goes by her English name Sophie, has been living in Sarnia for the past three years.
She spent two years at Lambton’s campus at Jilin University in Changchun, China before completing her final year at Lambton’s main campus in the Business Administration – Accounting program.
“Lambton provides a great opportunity for foreign students and it’s great to experience new culture and learn a new language,” she says.
The College helped her find a coop placement at the RBC branch on London Road as a customer service representative. That was 18 months ago and she is now employed there full-time, loves her career and has no plans on leaving Canada.