Yorkville’s International Students Celebrate Mother’s Day with Long-distance Letters Home

Student Stories

May 12, 2019

প্রিয় মা

mahal na Ina


प्रिय माँ

Dear Mom

Yorkville University students spent the week running up to Mother’s Day writing letters of tribute to “the most beautiful women” in their lives – their moms.  ­

The brainchild of Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) professor Iram Tanvir, the Mother’s Day events saw more than 200 tearful students pen heartfelt letters destined to be delivered to their moms all over the world ­– from India, Iran, Afghanistan and the U.S., to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, the Philippines, and beyond.

“We didn’t intend to make anybody feel sad or make people cry – but it is emotional,” Swarna Saini, Yorkville University’s Campus Registrar, told students participating in the May 8 event in the Steeles Campus’ student lounge.

“Our mothers are the first ones and the last ones that love us. Theirs is the only love in the entire world that isn’t give and take…with mothers, it’s only what you receive. You will always be her only love.”

Tanvir said she was inspired to organize the Mother’s Day events ­– which ran every lunch hour from May 6 to 10 – after an encounter she had with one particularly homesick student amongst her BBA class’s large population of young, international students.

“I noticed one day that she wasn’t very attentive, that she was dozing in class, and when I checked on her I learned she hadn’t slept in weeks,” she said.

“We started talking and realized that she had so much she wanted to say to her mom, and that was what was keeping her up. So, that’s what gave me the idea to tell her to write her mother a letter.”

The student did just that ­– handwriting a letter to her mom back in India and sharing with her all the things that she had previously left unsaid, then sending it to her over WhatsApp.

The next week, Tanvir was greeted back to class with the open arms of her now-smiling and well-rested student.

“She hugged me and told me her mom read the letter and the only thing they both did was cry. ‘Mom was crying, I was crying. We both didn’t say anything, but that day, Ma’am, I slept,’” Tanvir recalled the student telling her.

“And that kind of gave me the idea for this Mother’s Day event because I knew that it wasn’t just her that was missing home. Given the demographics of our students, and given that emotional health is so important, we wanted to look at events that would sort of help make Yorkville a home for them.”

With help from some of her fellow faculty members – ­including Saini, Kateryna Yuri, and Krystal Jiang – as well as a team of students that included Diptangshu Banerjee, Khushbu Soni, Harjot Singh Rattan and Yazam Kalaldeh, the Mother’s Day events were born.

In addition to the letter writing sessions, the weeklong daily events also included the presentation of a student-made video showcasing photos of students with their mothers, special guest speakers including Tanvir’s own mother, and even a few surprise video messages from mothers overseas to their children at Yorkville.

A tearful Vinita Patel, a 22-year-old BBA student who came to Canada from India three months ago to study at Yorkville, was the recipient of one of those videos.

“It was mesmerizing. I couldn’t see because of my tears,” Patel said of the experience hearing her mother’s voice and seeing her face on the big screen at Yorkville’s Steeles Campus on May 8.

“My mom said she loves me, she really misses me, and she really wants me to be happy. That makes me happy.”

And that, in turn, makes Tanvir even happier.

“When students are emotionally more stable, they perform better in the classroom – that’s why we’re always trying to provide them with as nurturing an environment as possible,” she said.

“Personally, I can’t wait for the moms to receive the letters, and I can’t wait to hear all about their responses back.”