Updated: Aug 14, 2019
I was truly honored to receive the Young Alumna Award from my Alma Mater, the University of Ottawa on May 3rd 2018. This University not only offered me an Education but also, a chance to accomplish some of my biggest dreams while building the most fruitful and beautiful friendships with brothers and sisters from around the world. Indeed, it is at the University of Ottawa that I developed some of my most precious projects with great folks I still call friends today.
My Acceptance speech:
Excellences, Membres du Jury, Mesdames, Messieurs, Chers amis,
Bonsoir. C’est rellement un honneur et un Plaisir pour moi d’etre honore aujourd’hui par l’Universite d’Ottawa, mon alma mater; et de ce recevoir cet honneur, parmi d’autres anciens de cette institution, d’autres diplomes des plus inspirants que l’Universite a aussi forme. Quel honneur vraiment! Un honneur qui me pousse a vouloir faire encore plus; a vouloir redoubler d’efforts afin d’atteindre d’autres objectifs armee des connaissances que j’ai pu acquerir ici tout au long de mon parcours, que ce soit durant mon bac bidisciplinaire en Communications et Sociologie ou encore au cours de ma Maitrise en Sociologie.
Comme je le disais, recevoir ce prix est vraiment pour moi, un honneur car l’Universite d’Ottawa a ete plus qu’un etablissement d’enseignement superieur; elle a ete pour moi un lieu qui m’a permit de rever, qui m’a permis d’accomplir et qui m’a permis de rencontrer des gens, qui sont devenus aujourd’hui des freres, des soeurs, des collegues et des amis les plus chers que j’ai. Je vois ici Nadia Hadj Mohammed avec qui nous avons vecu des hauts et des bas ici, qui nous ont reelement formes pour la vie a l’exterieur de ce cocon. Aujourd’hui Nadia est Conseiller Politique de l’Honorable Claude Bibeau, Ministre du Developpement International et de la Francophonie. ET Je me souviens encore des jours ou nous revions d’occuper les places et les espaces que nous occupons aujourd’hui lorsque nous travaillons a la Maison Internationale, ici, a l’Universite d’Ottawa. Nous avons encore tant de choses a apprendre et a accomplir.
In fact, this University is a place where we were able to not only dream but where we were also given access to tools that allowed these dreams to come to life. Indeed our teachers sometimes even became our parents, our mentors, our friends who demanded nothing but excellence from us; who made us realize that Excellence is indeed not an act, but a habit; that access to Education is a true privilege that we should never take for granted. Today, as the Strategic Partnership Liaison at the Native Women’s Association of Canada and throughout my humanitarian work in the Congo, Haiti, Senegal and Gabon I can confirm that Education is indeed a true gift that many, unfortunately, around the world, BUT also right here at home in Canada, don’t have the blessing to access. Even when we do have the benefit and luxury to have access to education; we sometimes face many obstacles, including financial barriers that often block us from giving our all. As an International Student, whos father was murdered and who’s mother was left, with only her strength and willpower to push her children to finish their Education and become even better than their parents, I can attest that the road to the finish line has been far from easy. Allow me here, to quote Nobel Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, whom I had the honor to hear and exchange with at the G7 and W7 activities last week during a two-day event on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: “As we think any form of Education, let it be as a holistic perspective” because there are many issues confronting students in many communities. There this idea, that somehow International Students have means like no others; but in reality a lot of them struggle and a lot of families like mine, sacrifice to be able to give the gift of Education to their children in hopes of a better, healthier, more prosperous future for them. And the University of Ottawa is an example to follow when it comes to the idea of approaching Education from an Holistic perspective.
This institution has helped me and many many students to reconcile work and studies through their work-study program. This program and many other initiatives have tremendously helped me and others to sustain ourselves while working towards obtaining our diploma (degree). Thank you will never be enough to thank this University and the faculty of Social Science, my University of Ottawa that challenged me to defy the conventional, my University of Ottawa that allowed me to dream a Black History Month Gala and then aligned right with me to make it happen; my University of Ottawa that gave me some of the greatest teachers, friends and mentors; that gave me tools to proudly and powerfully cross the finish line; my University of Ottawa that challenged me intellectually but also socially; that made me learn and unlearn but importantly my University of Ottawa that made me realize more than ever that Impossible is just not a possibility here for we can do it all, we can be it all and we can beat it all with God by our side! Thank you! Gwen Madiba Moubouyi