Friday, January 18, 2008

Loyalist PR: learning without borders


The following article appeared in today’s Intelligencer newspaper. The subject of the article is Loyalist PR grad (2006/07) and international student Sundeep Shahani.

"I met Sundeep Shahani about a year and a half ago, when he and his uncle knocked softly on my office door, asking if I could direct them to an off-campus housing address.

I was about to leave for the day, so I told them they could follow me, and I would lead them there.

Sundeep was enrolled in the one-year, Post-Graduate Public Relations (PR) program at Loyalist College.

During that year, I would see him from time to time, and he always had a ready smile and friendly greeting.

He graduated from the PR program in June 2007.

This December, I emerged from my car in downtown Belleville only to be greeted by that same warm smile and a hand extended in greeting.

It was wonderful to hear what he has been doing and to see how much he is enjoying his career.

Sundeep’s story is not quite as simple as you may think. He came to Loyalist as an international student from India, where he describes his home province of Rajasthan as the land of desert, gorgeous palaces and yes, even snake charmers.

Sundeep embraced Belleville and Canada – determined to learn about, and enjoy, every aspect of Canadian culture.

Following graduation, Sundeep moved to Ottawa where he worked as a pride and recognition coordinator with Service Canada.

Through this experience, he was offered a position with Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, Western Hemisphere Trade Policy Division, as a trade advocacy officer. In this role, he produces advocacy material to promote agri-based bilateral trade between Canada and the United States.

Sundeep came to Canada with a diverse academic background. He has his BA in commerce, his MA in English literature and a certificate in Spanish language.

He described how PR enhances these skills: “I believe it blends with almost everything. My present job requires a lot of math. Therefore, it’s interesting to incorporate PR with my degree in commerce to present numbers to our target audience in order to gain a meaningful outcome in favour of Canada’s agri-based trade with the United States.”

“The Canadian accent and culture were my greatest challenges when I arrived,” he added.

“The different services offered through the college’s International Student Centre were of utmost assistance, and helped me to become immersed in the local community. Through them, I was introduced to the local chapter of the UN in Belleville, with whom I maintain a good relationship even today. I have been treated so well here. I hope to return this favour to the Canadian people in the best way that I possibly can.”

This year, there are 25 international students studying at Loyalist College from the countries of Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, the United States, India, Cayman Islands, Barbados, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa and Afghanistan.
" – Written by Marilyn Warren

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