Ceremony for Announcing the Canadian Occidental Petroleum Scholarships [Archives:1998/29/Reportage]

July 20 1998

Canadian Occidental Petroleum’s President and CEO, Mr. Victor Zaleschuk, announced about a year ago the establishment of a fund of roughly US$ 2 million. The money will be used to finance the university education of 20 Yemeni students in Calgary, Canada, over four years. The selection process is administered by a steering committee comprising of distinguished individuals from Yemen and Canada.
The selection process started several months ago with the application of more than 700 students. On July 14th, the 21 semi-finalists were announced in a ceremony arranged for this purpose. These men and women will now undergo English language testing, computer training and overall orientation. The first batch of 10 will be selected from among them. The first five of the ten will start their studies as from January 1999 at the University of Calgary and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.
On this occasion, Mohammed H. Al-Qadhi of Yemen Times attended the celebration. He talked to the Canadian Occidental people, the representatives of the two Canadian schools, members of the Steering Committee, and some of the students.
This is what they said:
Vice President,
Relations with Governments,
Canadian Occidental Petroleum Ltd.
Our vision is that the students will come to Canada and study in areas which are directly relevant to the progress and development of Yemen. These areas include computer science, engineering, project management, international law, etc.
The students who will be studying in Canada will build up friendships and relationships between Yemen and Canada, not only with Canadian Occidental, but with the whole country. Our vision is that they will be yet another important link, or bridge between our two countries.
The students who will get the scholarships are brilliant. These are the top of all the applicants, screened in an objective and reliable way at various stages. The English language and academic skills of the 20 students we have here today are really impressive by Yemeni and international standards.
Another thing we are looking for is students who have the ability to cope with the change. Going to Canada is a significant change.
We promise the students and their families that we will do our utmost to care for them. We have a stake in their success. Canadian Occidental – at all levels starting with our president, has made a commitment.
We will send the students back to Yemen every summer, because we want them to maintain strong ties in Yemen, since they will return to Yemen after finishing their studies here in Canada.
Canadian Occidental Petroleum Ltd.
When Canadian Occidental does business in another country, they consider the Community first. It’s very important. They would like to get involved in projects important to the development of the community and country. In Yemen, the best way they found in which they can do this, is through educating Yemeni students in Canada and bringing them back to Yemen to contribute to the development and the modernization of their country.
I have great expectations for these students, I had the opportunity of interviewing them all. They’re very bright and extremely devoted to their country. They want to see some change in their country. And I think that they will start effecting the change that is required to make Yemen a better place.
The students will go to the University of Calgary and SAIT, both of which have international student facilities. There is a good supporting system for the students. They will blend-in very well with the Canadian students, I’m sure. Canadian Oxy is very excited about this program. The company management at Calgary will support this program as we want to show that Canadian Occidental are true friends of Yemen.
Ministry of Education,
Executive Director, Co-ordination Unit.
We want to assure everybody of the integrity and objectivity of the selection process. No member of the Steering Committee or the company (Canadian Occidental) influenced the screening process for personal gains.
Let me go through the process.
First we advertised to pick good candidates from the whole of Yemen. This was done in the media in Sanaa, Aden, Taiz, Hodeidah, and Mukalla.
Second, we opened 5 centers to collect the application forms. These were in Sanaa, Aden, Taiz, Hodeidah and Mukalla.
Third, we took the secondary certificates of the students. We gave weights to the overall score, as well as to the core courses. Then we gave weight to English proficiency. Then there was an essay to allow measure the maturity and clarity of objective among the candidates. All these scores and weights were put together to give us the first batch of 61 selected candidates.
Then we did interviews with all of them. We tried to measure personality, general information, and other qualities. This process reduced the number to 33.
Finally, all the documents and papers were sent to the universities for their selection. They sent back a list of 21.
So you see, it was highly objective.
Admissions Co-ordinator,
University of Calgary.
I came from the University of Calgary where some of these students will be studying.
We are very impressed with the academic records of the applicants. Therefore, I do not see much difficulty with the studying part. However, I think they will find some change in the weather; and of course, the culture. But they can adapt with it quite quickly.
We will very happy to assist these students in any way we can. They will study with us and then return to serve their country. In addition, they will be instrumental in strengthening the relationship between Yemen and Canada. This This is my first visit to Yemen. I’m very impressed by the friendliness and hospitality of the Yemeni people.
International Admissions Officer,
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Even though my visit to Yemen was very short, I enjoyed it very much. Those students going to Canada are very bright and I think they will do wonders for their country. Their language is already good. They will study in Canada and be exposed to different cultures. I hope they will help their country a lot when they go back.
These scholarship will do much to strengthen relations between Yemen and Canada at different levels.
I’m very glad to be in Yemen. It’s a really beautiful country. I visited Thula and I was very impressed by the friendly people. I hope to come back.
Scholarship Candidate
I’m very happy to have the chance to go to Canada for my studies. I hope to learn skills to help my country develop when I come back.
I chose the field of Information Technology because we are living in the age of computers. So, I will be dealing with computers which are necessary for everybody these days. I advise my friends to do their best and to prove that they are worthy of this opportunity.
Scholarship Candidate
I’m very optimistic that this program will give us something useful. It is really a great chance for us to go and study in Canada, which has one of the best educational systems in the world.
I am sure we will face some difficulties, especially at the cultural level. We are being transplanted from a conservative country to a more open one. But we will be able to cope.
Scholarship Candidate
I look at this process as an opportunity as well as a challenge. I believe we will be required to work much harder once in Canada. I am preparing myself psychologically to work much harder. I know there will be stiff competition.
Aziz Al-Haddi, AMIDEAST Country Manager, Najeeb Al-Sharafi, AMIDEAST Program Officer, Brian McNamara and Mike Kelly of the Training Department at Canadian Occidental participated in the ceremony. Those four individuals will be working with the candidates until they are ready to go.
Also attending the meeting to pledge continued cooperation and support was Dr. Waleed Al-Jazrawy, President and General Manager of Canadian Occidental Petroleum Yemen.
At the end of the opening session, Professor Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, member of the Steering of the Committee, gave the candidates words of encouragement and advice. He indicated that while technical knowledge was extremely important for the development of an individual and for his/her contribution to the nation, it is the moral uprightness, values, and principles that are the defining elements. “Character integrity and love for one’s homeland are key factors in how much we give to our country. You can see people with high degrees but with little contribution. We want educated people with high integrity,” he said.
The next step would be for the candidates to undergo language and computer training. It is timely that the Canadian Occidental Sanaa Training Training Center was opened at the same time. On this note, Mr. Brian McNamara said, “Canadian Occidental Petroleum Yemen is proud of our commitment to the people of Yemen. The CanadianOxy Scholarship Program and the opening of the Sanaa Training Center are clear indications of this commitment. It is our belief that continuous training and development of people is an investment for our Company and the Yemeni society. We appreciate the significant support that we have received from our Partners and the Government of Yemen for all our initiatives.”