Atizaz Akhtar’s talent for chemical engineering did nothing to help him find the equation to stay on a mechanical bull.
“That was fun!” Akhtar smiled as he picked himself off the mat and walked back to a group of laughing friends.
Akhtar and his buddies, all from Islamabad, Pakistan, all studying engineering at the University of Alberta, were among the 1,500 or so students from six Edmonton post-secondary institutions who gathered at the Shaw Conference Centre for the first City Wide Welcome earlier this fall.
The event was designed to thank new-to-Edmonton students for choosing the city for their studies and to show off some of the services and personality the schools and the city have to offer.
“I want to know how to get around and I want to know more about the transportation here,” Akhtar said. “And I want to meet new people and make some friends. People are very friendly here.”
The mechanical bull station was one of 30 booths, from ATB Financial to EdmontonNext Gen to Alberta Health Services to the Bike Street Team to Elk Island National Park, whose representatives told their part of the story of Edmonton and area. The learning institutions—MacEwan University, NAIT, Concordia University of Edmonton, Norquest College, The King’s University, and UAlberta—were also on hand to make the students feel in the know and welcome.
It was the first time the six institutions had gathered under one roof for a tribute to their students and community.
Victoria Rissling, an international recruiter at MacEwan University, said it’s crucial students feel welcome from Day 1.
“When you move away from home, you have to feel welcome, and feel welcome right away, if this is going to be your second home,” she said.
“We want Edmonton to be their second home. We want them to stay.”
The City Wide Welcome was the first of its kind in Canada and showed what can happen when we work together to make students new to Edmonton feel welcome.
“The City of Edmonton saw a great opportunity to be the title sponsor of this event and showcase the many programs and services the City has to offer,” said Salima Ebrahmim, the City’s Director, External Relations, Private Sector and Post Secondary.
“My former colleague Karen Link did great work helping to pull this off for the all the students and vendors and volunteers.
Elder Betty Letendre welcomed the students to Treaty 6 territory. She lauded education as a way to heal the world.
“If we don’t understand each other, there won’t be peace,” Letendre said. “Just watch the news.”
She encouraged the students to stay curious.
“Take advantage of your ability to ask questions,” Letendre said. “You will find people here to help you.”