Honours Bachelor of Arts (HBA) 2009 – History and Diaspora and Transnational Studies
DTS was more than just a program of study for a newly arrived immigrant youth. It’s what helped him understand and embrace his diasporic identity in his family’s adopted home, Canada.
One of DTS’ first alumni, Mohamed Awad, immigrated with his family from Egypt in his early teens and found the transition challenging. “The irony of the immigrant experience for many children is that they are told by their parents that ‘we came to Canada for you’, without acknowledging the impact of the immigrant experience on them,” says Mohamed. “In my case, it was difficult leaving friends and family behind and navigating a new culture. I felt I did not belong.”
Entering UofT as a computer science undergraduate student, Mohamed was more intrigued by the humanities and social sciences. “I remember my first DTS course more than 10 years ago, upon glancing over the syllabus I immediately knew that I found what I was looking for: a way to understand my diasporic identity and encouragement to be who I am without holding back.”
Mohamed went on to double major in DTS and history, graduating with high distinction, while also being an active member of the DTS community. “DTS was my UofT family: everyone from Prof. Ato Quayson to Dr. Rima Berns-McGown and Dr. Antonela Arhin were there for me as mentors and friends, even after graduating,” says Mohamed.
Finding his place, Mohamed became active civically: interning with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, becoming the president of the UTM Historical Studies Society, sitting on the board of the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, founding the grassroots volunteer group CivicMuslims, completing a Master of Public Administration from Queen’s University, and holding progressively senior positions in the Ontario Public Service.
“Every day I carry my DTS learnings with me,” says Mohamed. “DTS gave me the confidence to embrace my identity and enshrined in me the belief that Canada flourishes when each of us are supported and empowered to make our own unique contribution.”
Honours Bachelor of Arts (HBA) 2019 – Major in Sociocultural Anthropology, Minor in Diaspora and Transnational Studies
I heard about the DTS program in my 3rd year of undergrad, and I am really grateful I found the department. Through this program, I have been given the academic freedom to explore the Black diaspora in Toronto as well as the nuances of immigration, borders, and identity which are all important concepts for my own academic growth. The DTS program has led me to want to pursue diasporic studies in graduate school. Moreover, it has given me the tools and language to address the socio-economic and political structures that lead to social inequalities through an equitable research framework.
Honours Bachelor of Arts (HBA) 2019 – Double major in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies and History; minor in Diaspora and Transnational Studies
I first heard about Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the beginning of second year when a friend recommended taking DTS200 to fulfill a breadth requirement. I was unsure as to what Diaspora and Transnational Studies involved, however, as I took the course I gradually became enamored with DTS as I learned about colonialism, citizenship and nation building, war and displacement, and refugee crises through a diasporic and transnational approach, realizing its relevancy as it can be applied to the current global political climate. Upon completion of the course I eventually applied for a DTS minor and since then it has been one of the most academically enriching and enticing program I have enrolled in. Further making my DTS experience enjoyable were faculty members, particularly Dr. Arhin and Laurie Drake, who were welcoming in assisting my concerns and ensuring that I succeeded academically. As a DTS student, a personal enjoyable experience was the weekly seminar I had called DTS405: Human Trafficking and Contemporary Slavery taught by Dr. Arhin. This seminar taught me valuable skills concerning human trafficking and its economic, cultural, political, and societal implications and framework. While the seminar provided an in-depth examination where I was able to showcase my understanding and partake in original research, I enjoyed particular topics such as how diasporic networks facilitated trafficking, how human trafficking has emerged in new forms via the organ trade, or how to implement effective preventative and protection policies. With the breadth of knowledge gained and a fantastic faculty, I recommend students to enroll in DTS as the program will enhance your student experience at the University of Toronto as it allows you to incorporate and critically engage with the real world using a diasporic and transnational lens.