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Year-end message from GHC Chair

hamilton is for everybodyDear Friends,

It’s that time of the year again. It’s time for celebrations, reflections as we look forward to a magical festive season ahead and future opportunities in 2018.

Global Hamilton Connect is really grateful for all the opportunities connections and friendships that we’ve made over 2017 in Hamilton. We have been truly fortunate to have worked with the volunteers, supporters and members we’ve met at our socials, hikes and professional development events this past year, as we look forward to continue our collaborations for a better #HamOnt in 2018.

A few of our past and present Global Hamilton Connect executive members came together for a dinner celebrating our fourth year. It is wonderful to see how far our executive members have come! Including our advisors, we come from 13 different countries but continue to be united and sharing the passion for our adopted home town of Hamilton. Our mission: To raise awareness helping international students and newcomers to resources and networks that increases their chances to succeed, showcasing employment and volunteer opportunities by facilitating partnerships with local organizations and employers.

Reflecting on the past year, I’d like to take this opportunity to showcase some of our accomplishments. In collaboration with the Bay Area Restoration Council, our group explored the beautiful waterfront trails in a guided walking tour at the Hamilton Waterfront this past September, having also explored the Christie Lake Conservation Area over the summer.

We also ventured into advocacy, with some of our team members engaging in research related to international students and their barriers to immigrate to Canada. Working with McMaster Research Shop, they developed a policy brief outlining the policy barriers and met with local decision-makers on this issue, including Mayor Fred Eisenberger , MP Filomena Tassi, McMaster University President Patrick Deane, and Mohawk College Dean Keith Monrose. For more information, see this commentary piece in The Hamilton Spectator.

It has been encouraging to have the support from The Government of Ontario being selected for a Multicultural Community Capacity Grant to help support our work with international students and newcomers in Hamilton as we look forward to another exciting year in 2018.

On behalf of our team at Global Hamilton Connect, we want to wish you all an enjoyable holidays ahead and wish you get to enjoy the festivities with your family and/or loved ones and get to explore some exciting festive events happening in and around our Ambitious City of Hamilton.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Harin Dalal – Chair, Global Hamilton Connect
*Hamilton is For Everybody graphic by: Jelly Brothers

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“The generation of youth is indeed digitally savvy, but is also capable of being so much more.”

By Joyce Chan, Master of Public Health student, McMaster University

Joyce, an international student at McMaster University, participated in HIVEX 2016.

Joyce, a student at McMaster University, participated in HIVEX 2016.

“Youth are the most digitally connected generation of our time.”

The above quote is taken from HIVEX 2016 keynote speaker and CEO of CivicAction, Sevaun Palvetzian. It demonstrates not only one of the qualities unique to the youth generation – my generation – but also the ability among youth to harness the power of technology to transform their environments. Our generation of young students and professionals has ideas for creating change and progress, and the potential impact of our actions is amplified when we put to use our growing skills in technology and social media.

Yet, participating in HIVEX 2016 has reconfirmed to me that despite our digital connected-ness, youth have definitely not lost our personal connections with each other and our communities.

The HIVEX 2016 workshops were centred on the themes of idea development, effective communication, and community engagement. The conference covered the steps from having that a-ha moment, to pitching the idea, and to creating community impact. Perhaps one of my favourite workshops was “Engaging Pitch” facilitated by Futurpreneur as it gave me a framework to structure, communicate, and develop my ideas and unique interests. In between workshops* I witnessed an abundance of networking, with people sharing their experiences and plans for the future. Ideas were exchanged between students, working professionals and community organizations, and only time will tell what will be accomplished as a result of these connections.

It is refreshing to see the full potential of youth being recognized and fostered through events such as HIVEX 2016. Youth bring in ideas and fresh perspective.

We collaborate with and learn from generations past and present. Importantly, we are motivated to use our skills to create positive change in our communities. The generation of youth is indeed digitally savvy, but is also capable of being so much more.

*Admittedly, in between workshops there was also a variety of snacks of which I had to try a good number… for science!  

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I am accepting the challenge! Are you?



By Diana Chavez,  ELT and OSLT Marketing, ESL Department at Mohawk College

What a wonderful experience attending #HIVEX2016 Engage! It was my first time at this amazing conference. I found myself in a great community of young emerging leaders and colleagues. It is delightful to know that there are organizations such as HIVE and Global Hamilton Connect working together with the purpose of empowering this young generation. It is a call to action, to be more involved and connected with Hamilton issues, vision and plans. I had the opportunity to contribute some ideas to the development of the City of Hamilton’s plan to bring the new Our Future Hamilton community vision into reality. It feels incredible to contribute at least in a small way to our future development in Hamilton!

One of the workshops that I enjoyed the most was “How to Have Better Ideas More Often” by Brandon Love. I love creativity and most of the time I like to be innovative and take the risk to do something different. However, there some times you find yourself running out of ideas. I couldn’t be more thankful to learn about the most innovative concept to develop ideas: “Brain-sprouting” and not judging ideas since that is the number one factor that stops ideas. Quantity is more important than quality in the creative process. The purpose is that at the end of the brain-sprouting process you will come up with a ‘Big Fish’, an incredible idea.

Why are ideas so important? They generate innovations and through them we can solve problems. And daily, we have a lot of problems to solve.  I had the pleasure to interchange business cards with Brandon Love and I hope we can connect in the future; I would like to connect him with other young professionals that could be very inspired and motivated by him.

Be authentic, be your own author! That’s what I learned in the final workshop, to reflect who I am, and how I present myself speaks through my personality.  I learned the importance of developing my brand as a professional, working on my appearance, my behavior and communication skills.

Finally, I just want to say. Yes, I am accepting the challenge – to go out of my comfort zone and grow as a person! I see myself challenged to step up and as Sevaun Palvetzian mentioned in her speech “…When you get to find a seat on a table, own it”! A very powerful statement! It means to me, to embrace my job place, go further, have creativity, take new initiatives and develop my leadership. Research, reload, refine and reinforce my ideas!

Thank you HIVEX 2016 for challenging and inspiring me to be a better person!


Attend a conference – for FREE!

Global Hamilton Connect is offering up to eight (8) free tickets to the HIVEX young professional conference. Hosted by Hamilton HIVE, the conference is an event for students (international and Canadian-born) and young professionals to build new skills, learn about issues in Hamilton and network with industry experts. Participants will take part in workshops and be exposed to new ideas and discussions that can help advance their professional aspirations.

What: HIVEX: Engage, a young professional conference hosted by Hamilton HIVE
When: Saturday, November 5
Time: 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: The Cotton Factory, 270 Sherman Ave. North, Hamilton

Ticket cost is $45 BUT we are offering up to eight (8) FREE tickets!

Who is eligible for the free ticket?
Former and current international students studying in Hamilton and foreign-trained professionals.

16 workshops to choose from at HIVEX. Topics include:

  • Strategic volunteering and community development
  • Cross-industry mentoring
  • Personal branding for leadership success
  • Bringing Hamilton’s community vision to life
  • Communication and leadership dynamics

FULL details of the workshops at

Why attend?

  • Build leadership skills
  • Foster understanding of Hamilton and important issues in the city
  • Find out ways to get involved in Hamilton
  • Make new connections in Hamilton
  • Learn from established professionals, to enhance your education and career plans
  • Be inspired and empowered to make a difference!

Successful applicants are expected to attend the entire conference, with the option to stay for the after-party and community trade show (5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) The free ticket does not cover transportation. Participants are expected to find their own transportation to The Cotton Factory, either by bus or other options.

Yes, I want to attend HIVEX for free! What do I need to do?

1. Submit a statement of interest (250 words max.) answering:

  • What do I hope to learn from the HIVEX conference?

2. (If selected) After attending HIVEX:

Submit a blog post reflecting on your experience at the conference. Think about:

  • What have you learned?
  • How has HIVEX made you feel more connected to issues in Hamilton?
  • What were some connections made at HIVEX?
  • Anything else from the conference that has inspired you?

Your blog post will be posted on Global Hamilton Connect’s website ( to share with others the outcomes and key learnings from the conference.

Email your statement of interest to


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Débora Jesus: Enjoying all that Hamilton offers

Prepared by Naomi Ahmad, Volunteer, Global Hamilton Connect.     

Débora Jesus moved from Brazil to Canada and is now completing her masters at McMaster University. She loves how nature surrounds Hamilton, enjoys hanging out at James Street North, and hopes to live and work for Hamilton’s development. Here is Débora’s Hamilton story.


Débora Jesus

“I first came to Hamilton on an academic exchange program at McMaster University. I stayed in Hamilton from 2012 – 2013 and worked during the summer as a research assistant. After my graduation, I wanted to continue working with my supervisor and came back to McMaster University to do my masters in Communication and New Media.

When I first moved to Canada it was really hard for me to get use to Hamilton. I am from Sao Paulo, the biggest city in South America. So I wasn’t used to living in a city with so few people! However, when I went back to Brazil I couldn’t stand to live in a crowded place anymore. Now I really love and appreciate how Hamilton offers its residents the city life, as well as the experience of living surrounded by beautiful nature.

Initially, I found it a challenge to adapt to the Canadian educational system and the school year. In Brazil, I was used to having five to six months in a term, while the Canadian school term is only four months. The number of weekly assignments, my responsibilities as a teaching assistant, and my workload as a research assistant was very challenging; but at the same time also very rewarding.

My masters program has a small cohort. The fact that we are just a few students helped us to stay connected and share our experiences with each other. Besides this, I also got involved with the Organization of Latin American Students at McMaster University in order to keep practicing salsa and bachata. Allowing myself to have time for physical activities helped a lot with schoolwork.

Hamilton has so much to offer, but I’m definitely a fan of the waterfalls and all outdoor activities. This is one of the main reasons why I decided to come back to Canada.

Although I’m from a country with large forests, I never had the chance of experiencing nature like I do in Hamilton. At the same time, Downtown Hamilton has so many different stores. I love the coffee shops, art galleries, restaurants and clothing stores at James Street North!

My advice to other international students is to not be afraid. Hamilton is a welcoming city with affordable living costs and very friendly people. There are many international students that you can connect with at school and they can help you based on their experience. I also learnt a lot from my Canadian friends! My experience in Canada has definitely helped me become a better person.

After graduation I would love to stay in Hamilton. All the friends I’ve made since I moved here have become family for me. I would love to work here and help contribute to Hamilton’s economic development.”

Did you enjoy reading Débora’s Hamilton story? If you are an international student in Hamilton, share your experiences and be featured in our new series of international student profiles. Submit your story here.

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Phuong Hoang: Making Hamilton Home

Prepared by Naomi Ahmad, Volunteer, Global Hamilton Connect.        

Phuong Hoang moved from Vietnam to Canada last year. She is now completing her masters at McMaster University, volunteering in the community, and slowly making Hamilton her home. Here is Phuong’s Hamilton story.

Phuong Hoang

Phuong Hoang

“After working for over five years as a college lecturer in Vietnam, I felt like I needed to take a step forward in personal and professional development. I got the opportunity to join the masters program in Communications and New Media at McMaster University and am now completing my research. Before moving to Hamilton, I only thought of the city as a smaller version of Toronto. However, I gradually discovered lovely parts of Hamilton that the big city cannot offer.

When I first moved here, my biggest challenge was that I didn’t know anybody. However, I didn’t expect to get so much help from everyone either! My professors, new friends, the McMaster community and its extensive alumni network have given me many chances to establish my life and connect with others. I have made many wonderful friends in Hamilton. When I have free time, there is nothing I love more than going out for a walk, bubble tea or movie with friends.

Hamilton provides international students with useful resources that they can rely on and thrive on. Participate in activities and you will soon find this place your home. Right now, I am getting involved in volunteering opportunities in Hamilton, hoping to understand more about our community.

My advice for international students is to reach out. Sometimes you are afraid to ask for help, but you never know how much help you may receive. Get to know as many new people as you can, you will learn and grow.

After graduation, I would like to work in the fields of communication and media, or education and non-profits. I also have a passion for learning about new cultures and people. I have travelled to 25 countries and I hope to travel to as many countries as my age.”

Did you enjoy reading Phuong’s Hamilton story? If you are an international student in Hamilton, share your experiences and be featured in our new series of international student profiles.

Submit your story here.

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Ehima Osazuwa: Driving change in Hamilton

Prepared by Naomi Ahmad, Volunteer, Global Hamilton Connect.

Ehima Osazuwa moved from Nigeria to Canada more than five years ago. He is now the President of the McMaster Students Union and is a key figure driving change in Hamilton. Here is Ehima’s Hamilton story.

medium_Square_Ehima“When I first came to Hamilton as an international student, I thought the city was perfect – it was not too big, yet it is not too small and isolated like other cities. Moving to a new city is always a challenge. At first, I found that the transit in Hamilton was difficult to navigate, however, I had friends who had been here longer than I had been and they were kind enough to help me settle in.

While studying at McMaster University, I was looking for a way to get more involved in Hamilton and the opportunity to run for the president of McMaster Students Union opened up for me. I was interested in this opportunity, as the position allowed one to bring about positive changes to improve the lives of students. I decided to give this a shot and ran for presidency.

In 2015, I became the president of the McMaster Students Union. In my role, represent over 22,000 full time undergraduate students at McMaster University. I am glad to be able to say that I look out for the welfare of students and have been able to make positive changes in their lives.

I encourage others to take a chance with various leadership positions. There is no harm in trying out something new, the worst that can come out of it is that you will figure out what you do not like. The best that will happen is that you will find something that you are truly passionate about. Getting involved in extra-curricular activities – whether it’s with a sports team, student government, a club, or within the greater Hamilton community – is the best way to develop skills. There are numerous opportunities here at McMaster University and at Hamilton for you to grow as a person, have fun, and positively impact the lives of others.

Hamilton is a city with so much potential and great places to visit.  My advice to other international students is, explore Hamilton!

Whether it is one of the numerous waterfalls it has, the city’s vibrant nightlife or the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, there is something for everyone in the city to experience. I have had great memories in Hamilton but some of the best ones were of soccer matches at the Pan-Am Games hosted by the city. I was fortunate enough to attend a few of the games. The atmosphere in the stadium was mesmerizing and electric.

I have now graduated from the Chemical Engineering and Management program at McMaster University. I chose my program because I was always fascinated in improving the world by building and inventing things. Engineering offered me the chance to do so. In the future, I would love to pursue a career in politics, engineering or management. All that matters to me is that I am doing something I am passionate about and leaving a positive impact in the lives of people.”

Did you enjoy reading Ehima’s Hamilton story? If you are a current or former international student in Hamilton, share your experiences and be featured in our new series of international student profiles. Submit your story here.

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Joseline Nicholas: Falling in love with Hamilton

Prepared by Naomi Ahmad, Volunteer, Global Hamilton Connect.

Joseline Nicholas moved from Malawi to Canada five years ago. Since then, she has volunteered, formed lasting friendships and fallen in love with Hamilton. She is now studying at Wilfrid Laurier University and is looking forward to working for Hamilton. Here is her Hamilton story.

IMG_20160126_154616“I came to Hamilton alone, at the age of 19. It was my first time so far away from my family; I barely knew anyone in Hamilton and felt terribly lonely. My English was poor and so it was difficult for me to go out and engage in conversations. I remember spending the first few holidays alone in my room.

I also had very little idea about winter in Canada and no one to really explain how to dress. I actually learnt how to dress in layers for the cold weather from one of my professors during my first year at McMaster University! I was in a night class and my professor noticed how I came to class under-dressed for the weather. Knowing that it was my first Canadian winter, he took me aside and explained how I have to dress in layers and buy appropriate winter clothes to keep warm.

While studying, I started volunteering with McMaster University and the city of Hamilton. I became a member of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), an organization that sponsors refugee students to come and study at McMaster University. I also worked with the International Student Services (ISS) at McMaster University. The list of organizations that I worked and volunteered with is endless; but the point I am making is that I got a chance to practice and improve my English through these opportunities. The friends I have made volunteering and working in Hamilton have now become family.

I have two pieces of advice for other international students. First, get involved and volunteer! People in Hamilton are super friendly and getting involved in different activities helps to make friends. Second, be PROUD of speaking English as a second language. When I first moved here, my English was not as smooth. I had a strong accent and I felt very conscious of it. However, after I started getting involved in different activities at McMaster, I became more confident and I realized that having an accent is not a weakness. It is actually a strength! Now I do not mind having an accent; it just means I can speak more than one language!

I love Hamilton because it is such a multicultural city. I meet regularly with a group of Christian students at McMaster University and other community members. This has been important to help me settle in Hamilton. Being able to maintain my faith in a different country is just one of the reasons why I absolutely LOVE Hamilton!

After my graduation from McMaster University, I am now enrolled in the Masters of Arts in Business Economics program at Wilfrid Laurier University. I enjoy economics – growing up in a developing country, I have always wondered why some countries were rich while others were poor, why standards of living were higher in some countries and lower in others.

Economics answers some of the questions I have about factors that contribute to a country’s economic growth. I love economics because it is challenging, yet rewarding at the same time. I enjoy coming up with economic solutions to solve various problems faced by the world today.

After I graduate I would love to work for Hamilton. I will look for opportunities to work with the City of Hamilton’s Economics Department or any other department that would benefit from my skills and expertise. I look forward to contributing to Hamilton and building up this wonderful city!”

Did you enjoy reading Joseline’s Hamilton story? If you are a current or former international student in Hamilton, share your experiences and be featured in our new series of international student profiles. Submit your story here.

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Henry Luan: Getting involved in Hamilton

Prepared by Naomi Ahmad, Volunteer, Global Hamilton Connect.

Hoa Luan (Henry Luan) moved from Vietnam two years ago to begin a two-year Financial Services Program at Mohawk College. Since then he has made Hamilton his home, got involved in the community and reached out to help others, while also making new friends. Here is his Hamilton story.

Henry Luan

Henry Luan

“To be honest, when I first moved to Hamilton, I thought Hamilton was rather quiet compared to my hometown in Vietnam. I felt very sad and frustrated at first because I couldn’t go out at all during the winter. I grew up in a very warm and sunny country and I really missed feeling the sun all year around.

Initially, I also struggled with academics, finding it difficult to get used to the new education system. At the very first day of college, I was quite upset because I could not keep up with my classes. It took me at least three months to get used to the new college environment. However, I kept at it and even though it has been hard, I have finished my program on good academic standing.

I also took initiatives to help me keep up good grades. During the academic year, I participated in the SURGE program at Mohawk College every Wednesday to learn more about entrepreneurship. It was an amazing journey and I learnt so much more about the real business world from many successful businessmen who were invited as guest speakers. I’m also proud to have won an international leadership scholarship as well as the second price for the “Explore Canada from A to Z Competition 2014” held by The Embassy of Canada in Hanoi and the Consulate General of Canada in Ho Chi Minh City.

There were other challenges in Hamilton too. Language barrier and the cultural differences made me feel isolated during the first few months of my move to Hamilton. It took me at least two to three months to adapt to new ways of communication and a different culture.

However, during my first summer, I slowly started to explore downtown Hamilton and found it to be a very green and friendly city. Hamiltonians are very friendly and nice and the diverse cultural mix in Hamilton helped me to gradually fit in.

To improve my communication skills and understand more about the Canadian culture, I decided to engage with my community and volunteered at a number of different college initiatives. I found that the more I got involved, the more I felt comfortable with people. I still remember the first day I volunteered at Mohawk College; it was on Mohawk College Orientation Day. It took me about 15 minutes to walk around and calm myself before I could muster the courage to approach and help students who were confusedly looking at the school map.

Fortunately, I managed to get over my fear and start the conversation. Yes, on September 2, 2014, I said “Hi” to a stranger and I am proud of it!

My advice for other international students is: get involved! There is no better way to improve yourself academically and socially. There are many ways to get involved. It can be through your school, through community organizations or though the Global Hamilton Connect.

From my personal experiences, I can vouch for the value of volunteering. Volunteering has given me many opportunities to improve my team building skills as well as communication skills.

Because of my involvement with the community, I successfully won a ticket to the 2015 WEDay – a celebration of youth making a difference in their local and global communities. WEDay was the highlight for me that year!

I am excited to complete my program at Mohawk College. After my graduation, I would like to become a customer services representative in one of the five big banks in Canada. I want to work towards becoming a financial advisor and obtaining my CFP license. I chose the Financial Services Program at Mohawk College because I am passionate about how finances work and how it affect people’s lives.

I want a career in the business industry, which will also provide me with opportunities to help people. I am excited about the future and look forward to an interesting career!

Did you enjoy reading Henry’s Hamilton story? If you are an international student in Hamilton, share your experiences and be featured in our new series of international student profiles.
Submit your story here.
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“Be the change, you want to see in the world.”

Our exec member, Harin, addressed new citizens in a Canadian Citizenship Ceremony at Mohawk College on October 14, 2015

citizenship harin

HOla – Bonjour – Namaste – Ciao (Chow) – Assalamualaikum – Annyeonghaseyo – Sat sriaakal

Good Afternoon – ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Mohawk College Canadian Citizenship Ceremony.

Before I begin, I want to talk to you about family.

“Vasudhaiva Kutumbakkam” – is a Sanskrit phrase which is an integral part of my Indian Culture. “vasudhāiva” means our earth indeed is; and “kutumbakam” means a family; meaning – “the world, indeed is one family”. It is a philosophy to foster an understanding that the whole of humanity is one family and everything is interconnected; the whole existence is one unity which my parents and teachers instilled in me at a very young age.

Bringing different cultures, ideas and backgrounds together allows us to develop new friendships, forge new beginnings and to develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other.

East Indian by birth and a ‘Can’ Indian by heart, I moved to Canada as an International student to study Health Wellness and Fitness after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from India.

My core values of Empathy, Care and Respect helped me evolve as a global citizen through my education and understand my peers better.

Today I look around this theatre or any work place that I visit across Canada, or walk in any Canadian city – I see diversity. Diversity which makes me proud to live in a multicultural nation such as Canada.

Historically, Canada has proven to be a cultural mosaic. A mosaic – where citizens, – or global citizens, if I may say, coexist in a multicultural society, showcasing global citizenship on daily basis, celebrating that UNITY in Diversity. It is a wonderful time to live and work here and I congratulate you for your new beginning and thank you for the contribution that you bring with you, from your diverse backgrounds – be it your skills, your talents, or your customs – your Bravery – which it undoubtedly takes, along with enthusiasm, to embrace life in a new country – but I also want to thank you now for what you WILL contribute as you continue your life’s journey, here in Canada.

As Mother Teresa famously quoted,” It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” And I do believe, that Love is indeed a universal language which knows no boundaries

In my time here, I was involved in plenty of events, supporting my peers and student services as a student ambassador. I started to volunteer to learn the Canadian culture and to improve my interpersonal skills in various non-profit organizations, be it at the Canadian Red Cross Society helping seniors with “Meals on Wheels” program, or at the YMCA working with the children, as a cofounder of Mohawk Student Debate Club, or as a Human Book Speaker with Historica Canada, I have been an active contributor at Mohawk and the Brant – Hamilton community alike, speaking and sharing (spreading) that universal language of Love.

In addition to working for Mohawk International, assisting our international students successfully integrate into the college, I also head the Community and Outreach subcommittee for Global Hamilton Connect as one of the 8 founding members, enabling international students and young newcomers to be fully aware of and have access to opportunities to live, work, and play in our ‘Ambitious’ city – Hamilton.

So on this auspicious day, let’s be ambitious and pledge to change ourselves from spectators into participants as Mahatma Gandhi famously quoted, “Be the change, you want to see in the world”.

On behalf of my Mohawk family and Global Hamilton Connect, I’d like to extend a warm welcome and congratulate you all on your new beginning.

Thank you.

Harin Dalal
Mohawk College International