A refugee student at Dalhousie University’s agricultural campus is keeping a close eye on the development of the Syrian refugee crisis.
John Yool was born in South Sudan but he had to flee his country in 1998, at the age of eight, and travel to Kenya. The war in Sudan had been going on for years and young children were being forced to join the military.
“It was really very pathetic. You either joined the military, which is under forced recruitment, or you have to flee to another country,” said Yool.
Living under the care of the United Nations, Yool graduated from high school in Kenya. He was accepted into a student refugee program at World University Service Canada three years ago.
Yool has already earned a degree in agricultural economics and is in his first year of the engineering program.
“He’s an exceptional student. He did his degree in three years by taking summer semesters and, yeah, John is just a wonderful person and a perfect example of what the refugee program is all about,” said Anne LeLacheur, an advisor with World University Service Canada.
Yool says Canada has always had a strong humanitarian reputation in the world and he’s looking forward to becoming a Canadian citizen someday.
“I think it’s a blast, that’s what I can say. It’s a blast … it’s a game-changing event in my life to be in Canada,” said Yool. “I see myself in the same shoes that the Syrian refugees are.”
Yool will remain on campus for another year and a half before moving to Halifax to complete his degree. He says he sees it as a chance to give back to a country that has already given him so much.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh