Refugees from South Sudan, competing in Tokyo, will attend an Ontario college.
Three South Sudanese refugees who competed in the Olympics will attend a Canadian college this autumn as part of a programme that allows students uprooted by war to pursue academic objectives.
Rose Nathike Likonyen, Paulo Amotun Lokoro, and James Nyang Chiengjiek are members of the Tokyo Olympics’ Refugee Olympic Team.
They’ll enrol at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., as the first cohort of students in a new athletic stream of the Student Refugee Program, which involves post-secondary schools sponsoring refugees privately.
“They’ve earned the chance to rebuild their lives and design their own path to success, and we’re so pleased to be a part of it,” Sheridan’s president, Janet Morrison, said in an interview.
On Friday, July 23, while you were asleep, the opening ceremony in Tokyo officially started off the Games, with Nathan Hirayama and Miranda Ayim representing Canada as flag bearers and Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic flame. 3:11
All three sportsmen left South Sudan as youngsters and grew up in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, where they continue to reside.
Likonyen and Chiengjiek participated in the 800-meter races at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics as members of the Refugee Olympic Team, while Lokoro ran in the 1,500-meter event.
Sheridan is coordinating the athletes’ visit to Ontario with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Olympic Committee, and the World University Service of Canada — a not-for-profit organisation that administers the Student Refugee Program.
The three will spend their first year in Sheridan’s academic upgrading stream, which emphasises reading, numeracy, and critical thinking, but will thereafter be able to pursue hobbies and career goals of their own, Morrison said.
The college will provide academic counselling, physical and mental health services, and housing assistance to the players, among other things.
“There is a great deal of study on how to best prepare kids for success, all types of students with a variety of diverse backgrounds and life experiences. What we do know is that fundamental to that is a sense of purpose, which I believe these three learners possess without a doubt “‘She said.
“Because they have gone through war and persecution, we will give them with resources to assist them in rebuilding their lives here.”
According to the World University Service of Canada, the three athletes may assist raise awareness about the need for more refugee care.
“What Rose Nathike, Paulo Amotun, and James Nyang will demonstrate on the Tokyo Olympic stage is that we all have a common duty to protect the rights and assist fulfil the potential of millions of refugees worldwide,” executive director Chris Eaton said in a statement.
The UNHCR expressed a desire for additional nations to sponsor refugees in a similar manner.
“While refugee student-athletes are a relatively new concept, Canadian universities and colleges have a long history of supporting refugees seeking to relocate and pursue post-secondary education at their institutions,” said Michael Casasola, UNHCR’s senior resettlement officer in Canada.
“It is a model that UNHCR has urged other nations to emulate in order to increase refugee access to post-secondary education and a sustainable solution.”