Yorkville University has a new Student Life Coordinator – and in just one month on the job, Ali Noor has already slithered, striked and shimmied his way to kingpin status amongst his on-campus charges.
Since assuming his new role on Sept. 3, Noor has taken up the task of rejuvenating all non-academic facets of student life at Yorkville’s Ontario campus with gusto – challenging students to step outside their comfort zones during a recent field trip to Reptilia, engaging their competitive spirits in a few frames at Bowlerama, and expanding their cultural horizons with an on-campus Dandiya dance night.
“A lot of these students are international students, and when they come here, they’ve pretty much been staying within their own cultural groups – doing what they’re used to doing back home, and eating what they’re used to eating,” Noor lamented, noting his intention to spice things up.
“What we want to do is challenge them to explore and to embrace Toronto as their new home, while also making sure we’re giving them some activities that kind of make them feel at home, too.”
As Yorkville’s Campus Registrar, Swarna Saini said she first realized the growing need for a Student Life Coordinator shortly after Yorkville University transformed from a strictly online school for career-focused professionals, to one that also offers on-campus learning opportunities to a growing population of students just starting out on their post-secondary educational paths.
“When we transitioned from online to on-campus, some of our international BBA students felt that there wasn’t enough student engagement – that their experience wasn’t living up their expectations as first-time university students,” she said.
“They wanted opportunities to play sports and to engage in more extra-curricular activities, events, and parties. But, at the time, we didn’t have any one specific person here on campus to focus on those things – so that was the trigger point at which we thought we needed to bring on someone like Ali to engage with our students more.”
Since Noor’s establishment of YU Engage Now – a new student activity and event portal on Facebook – feedback about the resulting outings and events have been nothing but positive from both students and faculty, alike.
Even a Sept. 14 trip to one of Canada’s largest reptile facilities garnered rave reviews from its brave participants.
“From crocodiles and alligators, to snakes and iguanas – it was like walking into a real-life Jungle Book of sorts,” Bachelor of Business Administration student Karan Sethi said of the outing. “A truly awesome experience, indeed.”
“It’s the first time I have been this happy and laughed this hard since I left my home in India,” added Sahil, who’s also a BBA student.
Yorkville Professor Iram Tanvir likewise lauded the “wonderful” outing as one that helped “relax and engage” her students outside the classroom.
“They challenged their limits, and helped one another in facing their fears and stepping out of their comfort zone,” she said. “At the end of the visit, they connected better as students of YU and appreciated the effort to create such a memorable day for them.”
Meanwhile, for students like Nisarg and Khushbu Soni, Yorkville’s Sept. 30 Dandiya Night proved an excellent opportunity to showcase a little culture from back home for their new classmates here in Canada.
“The fact that we had members from different cultures and backgrounds participating in the event was an amazing experience,” said Soni.
“Any events that not only get my culture familiarized to others, but also provide an opportunity for me to understand and learn about others’ cultures, too, is a solid step towards uniting as one and enjoying as one – and that truly represents the true Canadian experience.”
Noor also oversaw a pair of recent bowling outings, and has plans to organize a number of internal sports teams at Yorkville to keep students active – including soccer, cricket and basketball.
There are also plans afoot for a series of upcoming events in the coming month, including a Welcome Party to mark the start of a new term, a Halloween celebration, and an event to mark International Day.
All students wishing to learn more about YU Engage Now and its upcoming events are urged to join the Facebook group at bit.ly/YUEngageNow