Ahmad Noorwali will be staying in Canada and university will be part of his future.
At the same time, the recent CultureWorks grad will miss his home town of Jeddah, a Saudi Arabian port city on the Red Sea. Jeddah is a modern commercial hub and gateway for pilgrimages to the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Ahmad, 19, graduated in August, just after a dispute between the Saudi and Canadian governments led to the withdrawal of most of Saudi students going to school in Canada.
Ahmad’s reason for being allowed to stay behind is quite simple – he was born in Canada. In fact, he was born in London, Ontario. The date was July 20, 1999.
Ahmad has both Canadian and Saudi passports. His older brother, Anas, can also stay for the same reason. Anas was born in Vancouver four years earlier.
His father was finishing his medical studies at Western when Ahmad was born. Before that his father was at school in Vancouver.
How the deadline affected Ahmad and other students in Canada
A reported 8,000 Saudi students faced the Aug. 31 deadline to head home.
Another 1,000 Saudi medical trainees were given a reprieve. They were told in late August that they would be “allowed to continue in their present training programs until such time as an alternative assignment could be arranged.”
While Ahmad has discovered he can stay in Canada to complete his studies after studying English in Canada, he was not happy when he first heard the news that he would be headed back to Saudi Arabia.
“The first thing I thought was I am going back. All the work and effort I’ve put in the last six months was all gone. That’s the first thought that came to me,” Ahmad said.
“I was so sad, but at the same time I missed my home town (Jeddah). I felt like all the effort I had tried so much was failing. People, like my father for example, tried for so long to convince me to come to Canada.”
His father did win the battle with Ahmad. After all, the move to Canada for education purposes worked for his Dad.
“And after I came to Canada, everything just blew up. That’s a horrible feeling I had,” Ahmad said.
“Also my sister and my cousin – they are both doing their PhD—they finished four years of PhD and they have just their last year to write their thesis. They feel horrible. They can’t stay like I can because the government – the Saudi government – is paying for their tuition. But for me, I am paying for myself.”
Ahmad talks about the support he received from friends and teachers at our ESL school
Meanwhile, the personable Ahmad also had a great deal of support from the teachers and staff of our ESL school.
“Thankfully, from all the teachers and even (CW Principal Derek Martin) himself. He actually talked to me and all the teachers talked to me. They were all together with me, even my classmates.
“They were with me in the situation. Like even if I was a little bit sad or something, they made me happy. They made me feel better.”
Ahmad will make his home in Windsor this school year. He will be taking civil engineering at the University of Windsor before returning to London and the Western campus.
“And then business or risk management or marketing because I am not really that good at math and physics.”
Ahmad did not get acceptance or an offer for Western this year after he was late with his English proficiency proof.
“When I contacted them, they told me that they don’t give conditional acceptance for Canadians, because I am applying as a Canadian citizen.
“For international students, they are given conditional acceptance.”
In Ahmad Noorwali’s case, being Canadian-born worked out just fine.
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