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Moncton wants to help international students settle in city after graduation | CBC News

Serge Zably came to Moncton in 2014 as an international student from Ivory Coast and is proud to call the city home.

“It’s been 10 years now, and I’ve never moved from Moncton,” the Université de Moncton graduate said in an interview on Information Morning Moncton.

It’s that sense of home that he’s now trying to help others find. Zably been hired to be Monton’s international student integration co-ordinator, a new position at city hall.

He said he will help students access resources while they are students but also when they are first looking to find jobs in the crucial transition period after graduation.

“There are a lot of challenges to stay here, so in my role I will assist them to navigate through this system,” Zably said.

He’s now surveying students to gauge their struggles and whether they plan to stick around after school.

He hopes to have better numbers and a better understanding of why students want to stay or leave, but anecdotally, he has found a lot of interest in settling in Moncton.

Moncton Main Street
Zalby said most international students he meets want to remain in Moncton after they graduate but need job offers to do so. (Shane Magee/CBC)

“Maybe 90 or 95 per cent of students who studied in New Brunswick, generally, they want to stay,” Zably said.

He said students often build connections and a network of friends through school, which can make staying in the city more appealing.

“They would like to stay here because they have already built that relationship.”

Finding a job can be challenging even for Canadian students in Moncton, but international students might face additional challenges with a language barrier, he said.

One of his biggest points of advice to students is to volunteer locally, not only to become more integrated into Moncton life but also to gain work experience.

“Volunteering is a way to gain that experience that an employer is looking for,” Zably said.

The main reasons Zably said he hears students might leave is that they have family in other provinces, they want to live in a larger city, or they have job offers elsewhere.

“So myself, being an international student, I feel like I need to support this population who are struggling to find the best place to stay,” he said.

“I can be a bridge between the city of Moncton and that population.”

International student leader supports Zably

Jovial Orlachi Osundu, president of an international students association at the Université de Moncton, said she has already had a meeting with Zably and is excited to see what he will accomplish.

“I believe this is very useful for international students because we have someone that knows our reality, that has been there because he was a student,” Osundu said.

“He’s a resource person, so he’s the right person for this position.”

young woman standing in front of bookcase with many mini-flags on top
Jovial Orlachi Osundu, president of an international students association at the Université de Moncton, said Zalby is the right person for the job. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

She said one of her association’s requests to the city has been for more job fairs, since finding employment after graduating continues to be the biggest barrier for international students remaining in Moncton.

After graduation, international students must obtain a post-graduate work permit from Ottawa to stay and work in Canada.

The permit is valid for up to three years. The graduates can then use the work the experience they gain with  their work permits to apply for permanent residency in Canada down the line.

“I believe that most of them want to stay, but they need to have a career, they want to grow, to have dreams, to have ambitions,” Osundu said.

If the city cannot provide that opportunity, people will leave, she said.

Osundu herself has been in Moncton for four years now and said she loves the city.

But the big question is: will she herself stay in Moncton?

“Well, if I have opportunities, why not? I would stay here,” she said with a laugh.

“It depends on what I have for offers.”