Everyone should find an “Ama”June 14, 2018
“When you start your university experience as a first-year international student, it may seem like you carry the burden of the world on your shoulders,” says Noura Doumbia a 20 year-old economics student from the Ivory Coast. “There is a crucial moment where you would like to be supported by relatives, but you are far away from home. During my first year at the University of Ottawa in 2015, I experienced homesickness. This was not only my first Canadian winter, but the first Christmas away from my family, and going home was not an affordable option.”
Fortunately Noura had the support of a friend and fellow Ottawa University student named Ama Ouattara. They had been high school friends in the Ivory Coast and discovered by coincidence that they were doing their undergraduate degrees at the same university. Ama encouraged Noura to get involved in student activities, to be strong, to regain her motivation and to not lose sight of her goals in the face of these new challenges.
In a short time, under Ama’s wing, Noura would learn everything from where to find microwaves on campus to how to visit a family doctor at the campus clinic.
Ama also encouraged Noura to become active in the community, while continuing to focus on her studies. “I participated in as many activities as I could — networking evenings, fundraising for the “Relay for Life”, free salsa classes at City Hall and Ottawa’s famous poutine festival!”, adds Noura. Noura even found a part-time job through one of Ama’s contacts.
“I am really grateful to Noura for nominating me for the 2018 Welcoming Ottawa Ambassador award,” says Ama. “This award comes from the city that welcomed me with open arms and continues to touch me even more. Ottawa helped me to become the young adult that I am today, its people were able to guide me and accept me, what more could I ask for?”
“At the end of my first semester at the University of Ottawa, I learned many lessons, but the most important one is to surround yourself with people who can help you,” concludes Noura. “Everyone should find an “Ama”.”