Written by Olivia DesRoches

As a former international student now supporting other international students, Serge Zably knows how vital newcomers are to their communities, as well as what opportunities are available to them after graduation should they choose to remain in New Brunswick.

Serge was not actively looking for a change from his life in Ivory Coast, Africa. That is until Canadian universities began visiting his school and he learned of all they had to offer. He could feel the pride these universities had for their institutions and realized he wanted to be a part of it.

The Université de Moncton (UdeM) was the first to respond to his application. Knowing this university would allow him to study in French – his first language – while learning  English, he quickly accepted the offer.

“I didn’t choose New Brunswick; New Brunswick chose me.”

Serge graduated from UdeM with a bachelor’s in political science and business administration in 2018. During his studies, he was an active member of various conferences and panels; and volunteered with organizations such as The Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area, Le Centre d’accueil et d’accompagnement francophone des immigrants du sud-est du Nouveau-Brunswick, Frontier College, and the Public Library of Moncton. He was also President of the International Student Association at UdeM.

Through this involvement, he fell in love with his community. “When I came here, I was alone. Being in a community with other people in New Brunswick made me have a family. I started feeling like I was home and I didn’t want to leave.”

Joining ONB

After graduation, Serge worked as an International Student Supervisor and Projects Agent at UdeM for three years. Most recently, he joined Opportunities NB (ONB) as the lead for the International Students Integration and Retention team, supporting international students looking to stay in New Brunswick. These employment opportunities combined with his first-hand experience as an international student have shown Serge the positive impact of welcoming newcomers to New Brunswick.

“We know multiculturalism is something valuable to Canada. Having international students and newcomers in the community brings something new – it allows for the sharing of cultures and is a learning experience for everyone.”

He also recognizes the challenges newcomers face coming to New Brunswick, including language barriers, integration barriers, housing, and finding a job. He remains hopeful, however, as he sees these challenges being addressed and is excited to be in a position where he gets to be part of the discussion regarding international students.

“If we want international students to stay in New Brunswick, we need to continue to take concrete action. I’m happy to be in the position I’m in because I can see the work our government is doing.” Speaking directly to international students, Serge wants them to know that New Brunswick has much to offer.

“There is a lot for students to do and many ways to succeed in New Brunswick. You just need to start. I know this from experience.  The secret is to get out of your comfort zone and be positive about the opportunities here.”

Organizations looking to hire international students in New Brunswick should visit welcomenb.ca.

Students who are looking for support with living and studying in New Brunswick can connect with ONB’s International Student Integration Team at internationalstudents@gnb.ca.

Be sure to check out our other interviews with videographer Anas Nannis and Barburrito’s Waleed Khokhar for their perspectives on international talent in New Brunswick.