The two are key in retaining international students in Newfoundland and Labrador long-term, says Dr. Hanh Do, postgraduate retention co-ordinator in the School of Graduate Studies.
Funded by the provincial Department of Immigration, Population Growth and Skills, Dr. Do (M.Ed.’21) is helping international graduate students and postgraduates at Memorial secure employment or entrepreneurship, forge connections to the cultural and social fabric of Newfoundland and Labrador and apply to one of the province’s immigration streams.
“The provincial government has initiated and developed a number of programs to support settlement and retention services for newcomers, international students and their family,” said Dr. Do, but adds that these programs and services can sometimes be challenging to navigate.
“Newfoundland and Labrador is a good place for living and building up together.”
She is making the process easier by developing clear visual pathways for immigration and helping international graduate students navigate the logistics of staying here. She will also serve as a liaison between international graduate students and organizations that can support them in their settlement goals.
To do this, Dr. Do holds workshops each month on topics such as labor market integration, immigration pathways in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadian workplace culture and practices, career advancement and entrepreneurship, interpersonal skills, social integration, community services and family supports.
“You can see the high level of engagement of students in the Q&A sessions,” she said.
A personal mission
Dr. Do has personal experience to draw on for her role, as she has traveled the world for her own education, completing a bachelor of law in Vietnam, a master of law in Japan, a PhD in law in Australia, in addition to her master of education at Memorial. She says she faced cultural and employment challenges when immigrating to Newfoundland and Labrador, and wants to make the process easier for others.
“I was a Memorial international student and my family and I wished to stay here permanently,” she said. “I passed many difficulties to find a job, to learn and get used to the work environment and culture in Canada. At the School of Graduate Studies, I have had the chance to use my professional knowledge and social understanding to support international graduate students, a beautiful and friendly province.”
By providing tailored resources, services and support, Dr. Do aims to help Memorial’s international postgraduates find meaningful employment in their field while meeting the expectations of local employers and addressing Newfoundland’s labor needs and shortages.
“I want to let students know that if they study well, volunteer and network, that there is hope to get a job here.”
Making “the Rock” home
While employment is the top driver of settlement, Dr. Do recognizes that social and cultural connections are also vital, and that she aims to help newcomers fully engage in all aspects of Newfoundland and Labrador’s social, economic and cultural life.
“I love the snow so much.”
Not surprisingly, one challenging area for many new international graduate students is adapting to the local climate.
“I love the snow so much, the first time I saw snow was in Japan, but not as much as here,” said Dr. Do. “We must admit that the winter here is long, but if we know and get involved in winter activities, such as skiing, sliding and snowshoeing, it is a positive aspect.”
Dr. Do says she plans to develop resources that highlight the cultural and geographical richness of the province, and demonstrate Newfoundland and Labrador’s value as a place where highly educated international postgraduates and their families can succeed and thrive.
“If newcomers can get a job and legal immigration status, Newfoundland and Labrador is a good place for living and building up together,” said Dr. Do, whose family has enjoyed setting up here. “People are kind and friendly, it’s safe, a clean environment and we don’t feel much discrimination here. We love living here.”
If you are an international graduate student or postgraduate looking for help with settling in Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. Do can be reached at email@example.com.
Dr. Kelley Bromley-Britts is the special projects co-ordinator in the School of Graduate Studies at Memorial. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.