Testimonial: Mathabo Tsepa

Current High Commissioner to Canada, Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program Awardee (2004-2008)

University of British Columbia (Environmental Education and Food Security, PhD)

I have no doubt in my mind and heart that my community in Lesotho, my Government, my alma mater University of British Columbia (UBC), and the Government and the people of Canada who supported me financially through the Canadian Commonwealth Fellowship and Scholarship Program are all satisfied to see me make this huge leap in my career from being a university Environmental Education lecturer in Lesotho to being High Commissioner – all - in just one year and some months, after graduating from one of Canada’s academically top Universities – the UBC, a place of mind.

That’s what Canadian International Higher Education does – it prepares learners so that they have skills and knowledge on how to be always ‘as ready as Girl Guides and Scouts’ to handle any job offer that comes one’s way and yet feel comfortable. What I have learnt is that Canadian education provides an effective, quality curriculum that is flexible enough to accommodate learners’ needs and contexts - whether from remote rural to urban Lesotho or any African country - while ensuring that such curricula fit in with today’s global job market place. For example, as a science educator at UBC I was enrolled in the Faculty of Education, however, the flexibility of UBC programs, curriculum and pedagogical practices allowed me to focus my PhD research on environmental education and food security (even though I was not in the Faculty of Agriculture). This institutional flexibility (as well open-minded research supervisor and committee) was important for me as it enabled me to focus my research on improving food security of the children in Lesotho - a topic that was relevant to my context.

What I really love most about my UBC is that it strategically prepares learners to be global citizens who can affect positive change in the world they live in, whether in one’s own community or internationally! For African students willing to turn their university research dissertations from theory into practice, I would highly encourage them to choose Canadian higher education. For example, having grown up as an orphan, while studying as an international African woman student at UBC, in 2004, I was able to establish a ‘Mohoma Temeng’ Youth and Community Resource Centre in my rural home district of Qacha’s Nek with the aim to help improve the wellbeing of orphans and women in Lesotho through agriculture – part of my UBC thesis. And thanks to my Canadian education at UBC, which provided me supportive enabling global citizenship environment when in 2008, prior to my May graduation, the UBC Go Global Program agreed to send UBC students to do International Service Learning with Mohoma Temeng Centre. Since then UBC students have been working with Mohoma Temeng in activities including building of 11 Ventilated pit-latrines for orphan-lead households as well as assisting me establish a pre-school for orphans under the age of 6. Today, looking back at my Canadian education experiences, and my position as the High Commissioner of Lesotho to Canada, it feels like this international education has really helped me to be a diplomat ‘without portfolio’ – way back before my Government of Lesotho gave me the blessings of being a representative of my beloved country. I believe that Canadian International Higher Education has provided me an opportunity to learn and practice public diplomacy and international relations and thus it has helped to prepare me for my current position as the High Commissioner.