International students can once again submit essays about their East Coast experience to win a $500 bursary
The COVID-19 pandemic took a lot away from us. Family members, friends, spending time with one another, even our livelihoods. Now imagine going through all that while your family is thousands of miles away.
Many international students made the tough decision to stay here in Canada during the pandemic in order to continue their education. Others were never given that choice as travel restrictions kept them from attending the institution and program they wanted.
Those that stayed lost employment opportunities due to the economic shutdown, while still incurring all the costs involved in living in a foreign country and keeping up their schooling. Those who had to opt for distance education likewise still paid all the costs for their schooling without any of the usual benefits of university life.
All that loss and uncertainty also impacted the international student bursary program offered by My East Coast Experience. Since 2016, the bursary program offered international students the opportunity to write about their personal East Coast experience, with winning essays garnering $500 awards that could be put toward defraying whatever costs they faced. The program has given out more than $10,000 in bursaries since its inception.
“I was once an international student,” says Ifeanyi Emesih, founder of My East Coast Experience and publisher of My Halifax Experience Magazine. “I know first-hand they have a lot of financial challenges and need support.”
There are many programs to help students pay for their education, but most of them require the student to be a Canadian citizen or at least a permanent resident before they qualify. That leaves out a lot of international students. It’s also why Emesih started the bursary program. It was a tough decision to put it on hold when the pandemic hit.
“Yes, we had to pause it because of the pandemic,” Emesih says. “There was so much uncertainty over the impact the shutdown would have on the students and the education system, so it was better to press pause until we had a better idea of how things were going to go.”
Now, more than a year after the pandemic first hit, Emesih says it’s time to bring the program back.
“It’s important to give back so international students can use these bursaries toward not only their tuition, but also for groceries, or rent, or utilities… whatever they need the money for,” Emesih says.
How important is the bursary to those international students who receive them? Yanni Wang was brand new to Halifax when she wrote her bursary essay and became of the first winners.
“I wanna say that winning the bursary was an important milestone in my journey from being an international student to a Canadian permanent resident,” Wang says. “It nourished my interest in writing and motivated me to do well and help other international students succeed. I’m grateful to My East Coast Experience for that.”
The bursary process is simple. Any international student attending school in Atlantic Canada can submit a 1,000-word essay describing their East Coast experience. Please describe your successes, your challenges, the good, the bad and the triumphant. Essays can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org and must be in by midnight on May 31, 2021. Winners will be announced in the summer 2021 edition of My Halifax Experience and the winning essays will be published either online or in future editions of the magazine.