Student stories

Biopsych co-op student makes connections abroad

Sadie Mackay

SOLS 24/7

Stepping out of her comfort zone for a semester in Malaysia made a world of difference for biopsychology co-op student Sadie Mackay. “The experiences I gained and the people that I met—I will never be able to replicate,” she says. “It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Sadie worked for SOLS 24/7, a non-profit organization providing education and skills-training programs to underserved communities. As a human resources intern, Sadie helped hire staff and teachers for Bahasa Inggeris 1Malaysia, a program developed in partnership with the Malaysian Ministry of Finance to provide free English training for Malaysians nationwide regardless of age, gender and ethnicity. 

Over the course of her work term, Sadie took on a number of other responsibilities, including travelling to community centres for maintenance visits, where she assisted in English classes and played soccer with the children in the program. “I wasn’t originally supposed to go,” she says, “but I had developed such a good relationship with my supervisor, who thought it would be a great opportunity for me.”

But the best part of her job, says Sadie, was connecting with her co-workers, who helped her adapt to the Malaysian culture and encouraged her to join in celebrations for the month of Ramadan. Though hesitant at first, she embraced the custom after finding a connection through fasting traditions in her own religion.

“We would hang out during lunch hour and they would read their Qurans, I would read my Bible, and then we broke the fast together,” she says. “During Ramadan, they have these big markets every night with just a ton of food—it ended up being a really great bonding opportunity for all of us.”

Looking back, Sadie is grateful for the opportunity to travel abroad on a co-op term. “I’ve learned so much about working with other people and cultures,” says Sadie. “To anyone thinking of doing an international co-op, I would say to keep an open mind and don’t restrict yourself—no matter where you go, it’ll be an amazing experience.”

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