Finding A Sense of Belonging
Exploring the Student Experience with Dr. Nadège Compaoré
As the latest speaker in the Enwayaang series, alumna Dr. Nadège Compaoré ‘03 shared a reflection of her experience as an international student attending Trent University and living in the broader Peterborough community during the early 2000s.
Since graduating from the International Political Economy program at Trent, Dr. Compaoré pursued graduate studies at Queen’s University before going through the University of Toronto’s (U of T) Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship. All steps led to Dr. Compaoré’s current role as an assistant professor of International Relations at U of T.
Her current research is concerned with claims of sovereignty by states and communities affected by natural resource extraction in Africa.
As an accomplished academic and a Trent alumna, Dr. Compaoré was invited to speak at Enwayaang during Black History Month where she would share her own experience as a racialized international student attending post-secondary in Canada.
“I think we separate so much when we talk about campus life,” said Dr. Compaoré. “Student life, huge aspects of the student life that technically cannot be separated from their performance, from their integration, from how they feel about themselves, what they feel about belonging and not belonging.”
Dr. Compaoré went on to speak about her own experience as a student at Trent, and the how students she now mentors continue to seek a sense of belonging.
A student perspective
Recent Business Administration graduate, and president of TABS (Trent Association of Black Students), Danielle Adderley ’18 (Otonabee College) went to the event to hear Dr. Compaoré’s story.
“I attended the event as a co-organizer for the Black History Month events,” said Adderley. “This event, in particular, stood out to me because of the title, “belonging”. While it may sound simple, there are a lot of complexities that go into one feeling a sense of belonging, and I was excited to hear Nadège's input.”
Attending Trent as an international student, Adderley said she could easily relate to many of Dr. Compaoré’s stories from her time at Trent. While so much has changed in 20 years, that same search for a sense of belonging remains.
“Nadège is an outstanding woman, and she so is so strong. Hearing her experiences resonated with me because there are so many similarities. I'm so grateful to have heard her experiences and be able to relate them to my own.”
“I think it's always important to look at our history and see how we can make improvements,” said Adderley while reflecting on Dr. Compaoré’s talk. “In order to move forward, we must get guidance and advice from the past.”
“It is important that Trent and the greater Peterborough Community continue to have these conversations, especially as our international and Racialized student populations are increasing.”