St. Jerome’s University President Dr. Katherine Bergman, the Office of Advancement, and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship welcomed Canada’s newest citizens this past December, as they took their oaths in the Student Wellness Centre. In typical Canadian fashion, the day was bitterly cold, but the hearts of all that attended were warm, as the University proudly provided a space where diversity, dignity, respect, and compassion triumphed over intolerance and fear; as we led and inspired those who wished to become part of this wonderful country.
The citizenship ceremony was also an important step in setting an example for our students. As part of our mission to help them construct meaningful wholes from the abundance of information and experiences available to them, we try to expand their understanding of the world from many different perspectives; which includes multiculturalism and shared experiences with those perceived as others.
Events like this foster the inclusive community that is at the base of our commitment to Catholic social teachings, which promote respect and dignity for all, and the University will continue to participate and develop initiatives that demonstrate this care for the global community and its peoples.
Bergman says, “It is critical to consider the impact of the choices we make not only on ourselves but on those around us. As Canadians, we encourage each other to think about who we are, and what we contribute to the common good.” This was a worthy contribution.
Hosting the ceremony on campus also provided a chance to inspire; to fully embrace the values that make Canadians ‘Canadian.’ To be informed, courageous citizens, who hold closely the values of inclusivity, and respect; who seek knowledge and truth; and who act with compassion, above all. Bergman summed it up aptly, “It is our hope that in this great country you will find your strength in diversity, and have the courage to advocate for human dignity of all, and the humility to work together to build a sustainable society, grounded in peace and justice. It is only through these values that the world will change for the better.”
Welcome Home: Priyanka
Priyanka Mary Sanjeev is a 20-year-old University of Waterloo student, in her third year of Honours Science, minoring in Medical Physiology. She was born in a beautiful Indian city called Chandigarh, known for its architecture and superb urban design, cultural growth and modernization. She is also a brand new Canadian, who joined us on December 6, 2017, as part of our Citizenship Ceremony.
Sanjeev was kind enough to share her experiences with us during a short interview between exams, and volunteer commitments with school and in the community:
Family and Friends
I moved to Canada in May 2012, with my parents and my two younger brothers. I remember being excited and nervous at the same time because I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t sure how well I was going to fit-in in a community with a very different culture, but I was excited to cherish the opportunity and get the best out of what was to come.
We do not have a lot of family here in Canada, but we lived with my uncle - my mother’s brother -and his family for the first three months. It was a very nice experience because my cousin, who is the same age as me, and I bonded very well during that time. I was very nervous about starting high school, but she helped me get out of my head by talking about her school experiences and how much she loved the school.
The Long Wait
We moved to Canada as permanent residents, and - I believe - we could only apply to be Canadian citizens after 4 years of residency [at the time]. Even though becoming a Canadian citizen is a long process, it did not feel like we had to wait for long because we were all very busy settling down and establishing a life. My mom, who was a pharmacist back home, had to start from the bottom, and get her license to practice as a registered pharmacist in Canada. I was focused more on school because I had to start applying to universities to continue my education. At the same time, we had to take the required tests and submit all the paperwork. After all the legal requirements were submitted, we were invited to the citizenship ceremony within 6 to 8 months. Time flew, and the next thing I knew, I was attending the citizenship ceremony with my family.
Personally, the day of the ceremony was a very emotional day for me, but I took a moment to look back at my journey since we had arrived. I had the opportunity to reflect on my experiences and cherish them. My family and I started from scratch and it was rewarding to see how far we had come. It was a struggle, but it was all worth it! During the ceremony, I felt proud and I had this feeling of achievement and satisfaction.
The Big Day
I think the ceremony was very well organized, and my favorite part was when families sat around a table and shared their experiences with each other. It was nice to hear about other people’s experiences because not only were they relatable, but they were inspiring! I felt very honoured to be attending the ceremony with those amazing people.
I honestly don’t have conflicting emotions about where I come from versus where I am now. I am a strong believer in the idea that home is where you make it. I have some great memories from back home [in India] that I will always treasure, and I am sure I will feel the same way about Canada, if I ever move back to India. Even though there have been many changes in my lifestyle, I don’t feel any different; I think that is mostly because I have always lived with my family, and I am constantly in contact with my relatives and friends through social media. That being said, I do miss them and I would love to go back and visit. I think on a day-to-day basis, I have blended in very well with the western lifestyle, but I do like to flaunt the Indian side of me through dancing and cooking. I absolutely love cooking Indian food! Nowadays, I cook more often than I used to before because it’s a great stress relieving activity for me. Also, I love dancing to a good Bollywood beat, whenever an opportunity presents itself, whether it is at school or at family gatherings.