Feras Bingursain: A champion for CapU international students
Greta Kooy / campus life editor
When Feras Bingursain first moved to Canada in the spring of 2014, the plan was just to learn English and head back home to Saudi Arabia. Little did he know that a full-ride scholarship to Capilano University would not only allow him to pursue his education, but it would also show him his new second home.
Currently in the Business Administration program, Bingursain is working towards diplomas in both human resources and international business. On top of a full course load, he is also a member of the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU), serving as the international students’ liaison, and a volunteer mentor at the Center for International Experience (CIE).
“I want to go to a school where I can have a community and I can practice English in small classrooms, that’s why I chose Capilano,” he said. Although a fan of many aspects of the University, Bingursain also noticed that certain things were missing, like student dormitories that could support international students. This prompted him to begin advocating on campus.
First volunteering as a mentor and leader at the CIE, Bingursain helps prepare international students before and after their arrival in Canada. This includes things like which phone plans to look at, where in the city to look for apartments, how to sort out a Compass Card and so on. The eldest of five brothers and one sister, Bingursain is no rookie when it comes to being a patient and an understanding mentor.
“I try my best,” he said, humbly. “They’re in a new country, it’s cold, people are different, they’re nice, but they’re different, so I want to make sure that they’re welcome.”
Once settled into regular school life, he helps facilitate events that involve both new and international students. Last November, Bingursain worked on a Christmas dinner event with the CIE for international students. “Many international students have never experienced Christmas, at least not North American-style, and many of them are here without their families and want to get together with their friends,” he said. Over 100 students participated, and money from ticket sales were donated to the United Way.
“The reason I got involved with student life was first to create relationships, practice a new language and make a change in the things that I wanted for others,” said Bingursain. His work within the CIE eventually led him to work at the CSU when last year he had the opportunity to apply for the position of international students’ liaison. “I’m proud to say that I’m working side by side with great student leaders, a student Board of Directors, who have been accomplishing so many different goals,” he said.
This past year has been a learning experience, one that introduced Bingursain to even more student voices and experiences. Although his efforts were concentrated on the international student experience, he recognized a need for socializing new students beyond just one group on campus. “My message to international students is to please get involved,” he said, putting an emphasis on building long-lasting relationships.
Bingursain will not be returning as the CSU’s international students’ liaison next semester. He will, however, be continuing his work with the CIE, advocating for and working with both domestic and international CapU students.