Planning on studying in Canada? It pays to listen to these gentlemen!
It began as a drive for self-fulfillment. It was just two guys in downtown Toronto in the middle of exciting careers.
Mel Broitman was a national reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Dani Zaretsky an international lawyer with his own firm. In his last year at the CBC, Mel reported on the Olympics and the World Cup of football. Dani had built his reputation in the field of international human rights.
But they both wanted something else, something more.
Already friends for 15 years (they met as new roommates in on-campus residence) the two started thinking up ways in which they could launch an international venture. During their holiday travel together and on mountain tops in Costa Rica and Ecuador, they imagined a working life with travel as the core experience and value.
They bounced around a few interesting ideas – mountain biking in Nepal and touring museum pieces from China were just two concepts.
But after hundreds of talks and thousands of steps walking around Toronto, both Mel and Dani realized that the value of studying, working and living in Canada was not widely known around the world.
This is where they decided they could make a difference.
One day, in their original tiny office at the corner of Broadview and Danforth in Toronto, they discussed how so many people they had met overseas had asked about studies for their children and yet never considered Canadian institutions. The more they studied the situation the more they realized there were so many problems in the field.
Even basic information was lacking.
There was a great deal of wrong advice being offered.
Many people were cheating students and others trying to cheat Canadian universities with false academic results.
Mel and Dani saw universities overwhelmed with applications which were incomplete, or inaccurately completed.
They saw that Canada's visa offices were receiving an abundance of bogus applications and many genuine people were losing the chance to study in Canada because their sincere intentions went unrecognized amidst a forest of fraud.
In sum, the genuine students, the universities and the Canadian visa offices were all frustrated.
Mel and Dani quit their careers and got right to work.
First, they started travelling – a lot. To Bangladesh, to Malaysia, to Nepal, to Pakistan and to India. They met with high schools, universities, Canadian high commissions/embassies, non-govern-mental organizations and, of course, with lots of students and parents. They realized what people needed were local offices where they could count on honest and accurate advice, even if that advice meant a student was not eligible to come to Canada. Their first office opened in 1997 in the BRAC Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. BRAC is one of the world’s largest national NGOs. The second office opened in the compound of the Canadian consulate in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 1998.
The Canadian University Application Centre or CUAC as it is widely known, grew out of these circumstances and challenges, and the desire Mel and Dani had to improve the situation for as many families overseas who sought a better future for their children.
Today, the CUAC global operations includes offices through South Asia, to Southeast Asia, to East Asia, West Asia, Africa and South America. Whichever office students and their families use, they count on the same service. Excellent advice and counselling, detailed information about programs and universities, and guidance throughout the application process, scholarship opportunities, including the visa process and the last details before departure for Canada. Its services worldwide are usually free of cost as the CUAC is sponsored by its member universities and colleges, making it absolutely ideal for students and their well-wishers.
Mel and Dani see exciting possibilities for Canadian higher educational institutions. Thanks to increasingly generous opportunities offered by the Government of Canada, Canadian publicly-funded universities and colleges are becoming increasingly attractive. International students can now work extensively as part of their degree and often for up to three years after they graduate. There are now many different options for staying in Canada and making a permanent life in the country such as through the Canadian Experience class or Nominee programs different Canadian provinces offer.
All these years later, Mel and Dani maintain a great deal of enthusiasm for helping international students realize their dreams in Canada.
And a great deal of gratitude that their own dreams of international careers have come true.
• To find out more about studying in Canada, visit Canadian University Application Centre’s website at www.canada123.org
Posted: Oct 2, 2012