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HRT PROFESSOR TURNS A TRAGEDY INTO A TEACHABLE MOMENT

June 19, 2017

 

On August 23, 2015, tragedy struck Humber College. Satvir Singh, a 22-year-old International student studying at the School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism, drowned in Professor’s Lake in Brampton. Why? Satvir didn’t how to swim.

When Anke Foller-Carroll, a professor in the Tourism - Travel Services Management program, learned of her former student’s death, she was heart-broken.

“When I went to his candlelight vigil, I asked all his friends if they knew how to swim, and they all looked at me very puzzled and said, ‘No, Miss,’” said Anke to Inside Toronto. “I asked why that was, and they said it was either not culturally appropriate where they were from, or there wasn’t a clean body of water available to them, or there just wasn’t someone there to teach them how to swim.”

According to the Canadian Lifesaving Society, new immigrants to Canada are four times less likely to know how to swim than people born in Canada. Faced with this knowledge, Anke decided to act.

In March 2017, Anke, in collaboration with The School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism, Ignite and The International Centre, launched a nine-week program of adult beginner swim lessons for international students.10 international students signed up for lessons at the program's launch. They suited up, dove in and began their lessons.

Anke, HRT Dean, Susan Somerville, HRT Associate Dean, Rudi Fischbacher and Amrinder Singh, Satvir’s best friend, all came out to the opening reception of the first class to support the students undertaking this new experience.

In the span of nine weeks, the 10 students went from being afraid of the water to being able to swim the width of the pool.

New swimming initiatives are currently being planned for the fall. It is Anke’s hope that other post-secondary institutions will follow Humber’s lead and offer swim lessons to their international students.

Thank you to The School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism and Ignite for providing funding to this program. Thanks also to the Event and Hospitality students who volunteered their time to help organize and set up the opening reception. Finally, thank you to Anke Foller-Carroll for organizing this worthy initiative and for honouring Satvir’s memory in this amazing way.

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