Cultural adaptation essential for global citizens

Author: 
Cindy MacDougall

Ruth Mojeed wasn’t planning to move to Canada. Her sights were set on the United Kingdom or France when she applied to universities for her master’s degree in 2015. But as she did her research, she was drawn to the country through her eventual alma mater.

“Royal Roads was one of the few schools that taught something I really wanted to study,” says Mojeed, a 2017 graduate of the Master of Arts in Intercultural and International Communication (MAIIC) program. “I felt this would be exciting, especially the people from around the world who would be taking that course. It was taking communication to the next level.”

Mojeed will share her insights as a keynote speaker at the university’s Career Development Conference Thursday, Feb. 8.

“Ruth has worked incredibly hard throughout her education and career,” says Natasha Dilay, Manager of Career Learning and Development for Royal Roads. “She focuses on new possibilities while encouraging those around her to also grow. It’s a pleasure to welcome her as our alumni guest speaker for this year’s conference.”

Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Mojeed says her undergraduate degree in communication from Covenant University deepened her interest in how people can work together to promote cultural understanding.

After her graduation in 2011, she worked with non-governmental organizations such as the Real Woman Foundation, the Alliance Française and the Association of Christian Schools International (West Africa). She says by 2015, it was time to put her passions and prospects into a broader perspective.

“My job was exciting and had lots of prospects, but I felt I needed to try something really challenging,” Mojeed says. “Beyond that, I wanted to see the world. I didn’t want to read about it or travel for two weeks each year. I wanted to actually experience other ways of doing things and different ways of living.”

She says the MAIIC program gave her the insight and tools she sought as an aspiring global citizen.

“The most fascinating thing about the program was learning with students from 11 other countries around the world,” she says. “Coming from Nigeria, we all looked alike; we all grew up in the same setting. It was fascinating to be sharing classrooms with people from India, China and Vietnam. It was the first time experiencing those cultures.”

Mojeed is grateful for the expertise of her professors as well. She credits School of Communication and Culture Assoc. Prof. David Black for shaping her interest in international development and globalization.

“Ruth is one of those people who make adaptation to a new culture into an art form. That takes courage, curiosity, a sense of humour and a willingness to reinvent while simultaneously knowing who you are,” says Black. “She has accomplished an astonishing amount since she arrived in Canada. Few of us, be we new to Canada or born here, would find it easy to keep up with Ruth.”

Since arriving in BC, Mojeed has continued her quest to promote cultural understanding and inclusion. She has been involved the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre, the Victoria Foundation and the Canadian Public Relations Society – Vancouver Island. She also hosts and produces the Shaw Community Access television show “Community Connect.”

Remarkably, she managed to juggle her many commitments while also earning a leadership and change management certificate from Harvard University.

In September, she joined the BC public service as a communications coordinator for cabinet priorities for Government Communications and Public Engagement (GCPE), helping prepare materials for the premier and provincial cabinet.  She says her time at Royal Roads uniquely prepared her for her role.

“It was a mini-BC in my classroom, with different people and backgrounds, and that experience resonates with what I am experiencing in my job,” Mojeed says. “I get this eagle’s eye view of the province and the sensitivities of different groups of people. What I experienced in class plays a huge part in helping me understand how things work in this culturally diverse province.”

Her work to promote diversity and cultural understanding in the region inspired the Victoria African Cultural Society and the city of Victoria to name Mojeed a Black History Month 2018 Laureate.

 “My aspiration is to be able to make real connections and impact people, whether at the community, provincial or global level.

“For me, it’s essentially about being able to contribute, extend opportunities to others and to see societies and communities become even more inclusive. That is my ultimate goal.”

Join Ruth Mojeed and other guest speakers, employers and students at Royal Roads’ fifth annual Career Development Conference Thursday, Feb. 8.