e-Pals: Virtual Friendship and Collaboration

Paper with Dear, written on it with pen

Inspired by pen pals, CIRCLE e-Pals connects University of Guelph students with students in Indian universities. The activity fosters networks of young and emerging scholars in the Canadian and Indian contexts, encouraging bonding and the sharing of common interests and ideas. In addition to sharing information and resources about careers, the activity encourages participants to learn about and better understand each other's cultures. In this initial round launched in November 2022, six students from the U of G are paired with students from the Miranda House College for Women, New Delhi and Ambedkar University Delhi. Faculty from all three institutions are involved as mentors. Besides ongoing one-on-one interactions, each e-Pal pair will create a joint output at the end of a six-month period.

Student Participants

Abigail White,
University of Guelph

Abigail White

My name is Abigail White and I am a third-year student studying International Development, specializing in Gender and Inclusive Development, and minoring in French. I am interested in community empowerment, education and human rights. Previously, I worked for a migrant rights and support organization located in Kuwait.

The e-Pals initiative has been an excellent opportunity for me to connect with a new friend in India. We have been able to have interesting discussions surrounding ideas of self expression, social justice, and our day-to-day lives! I would definitely recommend that other students consider this initiative as it is a fantastic, low-stakes way to get involved on an international scale and foster new connections while doing so.

Anuja Dey Bhowmick,
Ambedkar University Delhi

Anuja Dey Bhowmik

My name is Anuja Dey Bhowmik. I am presently working towards a bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Urbanism at the Karampura Campus of Ambedkar University in Delhi. I enjoy making music, creating songs and singing. I want to work in urban planning, but I'll also continue to explore music. We can connect with other universities through the e-Pals program, which helps us to better understand society and promotes our own knowledge and culture. My e-Pal and I have talked about music and photography. As a member of e-Pals, I want to say that students should take part in this effort in order to gain a better understanding of society and to promote their own culture, knowledge and interests with other institutions from across the world.

Rohail Raza,
University of Guelph

Rohail Raza

I am a fourth-year Psychology student with a love for socio-cultural and clinical research. I joined the e-Pals initiative to learn more about the experiences of students from diverse communities. I was happy to meet people with such a wealth of knowledge from backgrounds so distinct from my own. My e-Pal and I discussed the differences and similarities between social movements in Canada and India and how different barriers can arise from our unique cultural contexts and histories. e-Pals is a great way to consistently develop connections with people around the world!

Miranda House, University of Delhi


Learning, unlearning, listening to life experiences, cultural practices, finding reasons for why things happen in society the way that they do, seeing the good and bad of society, living through the good and bad, and trying to leave an impact on this world is what draws me to interact with as many people as I can. Pursuing my bachelor's degree in Political Science at Miranda House, University of Delhi has given me an opportunity to delve deeper into the concepts that I have always been curious to know and read about such as public administration, the Constitution and philosophers such as Kabir, Kautilya and many more. I have always wanted to go ahead in academia and personally, I wish to stay connected to books, writings, readings and academia for as long as I can—being a student is what gives me the most fulfilment. I enjoy reading, writing poetry, listening to people’s stories and experiences, listening to music, and travelling.

My e-Pal and I have been interested in unfolding feminist movements in Canada and India and drawing a comparative analysis between them. For me, the e-Pals initiative is a fortuitous opportunity as learning about different cultures is something that I enjoy and am very curious about. From my personal experience, such initiatives enhance one’s domain of thinking and broadens perspectives. I believe that the kind of learning that happens through such interactions endures and instils a much deeper understanding of concepts. The exchange of human values is one of the most important aspects of learning, and it is best developed through human interaction.

Samantha Nicolson,
University of Guelph

Samantha Nicolson

My name is Samantha Nicolson and I am in my fourth year of the Arts and Sciences program at the University of Guelph. I am studying Neuroscience and Criminal Justice & Public Policy, and hope to pursue a career in public health in the future. I love travelling and learning about new cultures, which is one of the main reasons that I was eager to join the e-Pals initiative. Although I've never been to India, I have learned so much about the culture by speaking with my e-Pal.  It has been really interesting learning about all of the similarities and differences between Canada and India. I would highly recommend that other students get involved in the e-Pals initiative as it's a great way to learn new things while also making connections with people in another country!

Md Omar,
Ambedkar University Delhi

Md Omar

I am pursuing an honours degree in Economics at Ambedkar University of Delhi, India. Apart from my major in Economics, a subject that I aspire to explore is International Relations. I could say that I’ve spent half of my school life on stage as I love theatre. The e-Pals initiative will help me to explore a number of things and eventually, help me to decide my future career. My e-Pal and I have been talking about a variety of topics related to academia, our future plans, personal life, cultures and traditions of our two countries as well as pondering the final project. My advice for students who are participating in e-Pals or are keen to participate in the future—make the most of it.

Hanika Saini,
University of Guelph

Hanika Saini

Hello! My name is Hanika Saini and I am a third-year student majoring in Applied Human Nutrition with an emphasis in Dietetics and a minor in Psychology. One of my interests is nature walks. I hope to get a sense of connection by participating in the e-Pals initiative as well as learn more about my e-Pal's culture. Some of the topics that my e-Pal and I have been exploring centre on school, food and cultural celebrations in Canada versus in India. Overall, the e-Pals initiative is a great way to meet people from a different country and gain insights into their everyday life.

Srija Singh,
Miranda House, University of Delhi

Srija Singh

My name is Srija Singh. I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Miranda House, University of Delhi. My areas of interest lie in Indian politics and economy. In addition, I enjoy baking, painting, learning new words from other languages, listening to music, reading books and travelling.

Through the e-Pals initiative, I am able to interact with many people and learn about their perspectives on many issues and agendas. I'll be able to improve my own understanding of various topics. It enables me to widen my perspective in a variety of ways.

My e-Pal, Hanika, and I have been able to connect on many things, including a shared love for food, sleeping, travelling, and our common cultures. I have learned that despite coming from two different countries, there are so many similarities. The project we are undertaking is based on the same. The e-Pals initiative has been really beneficial to me in terms of broadening my perspectives and providing me with the chance to interact with students and exchange novel and innovative ideas with them. Additionally, I feel more comfortable starting conversations today, which has increased my personal confidence.

Hiba Godil,
University of Guelph

Hiba Godil

My name is Hiba Godil and I'm in the first year of my studies at the University of Guelph. I'm majoring in Applied Human Nutrition and plan to become a registered dietitian in the future. One of my hobbies is reading and my favourite books are from the Harry Potter series. I also enjoy painting and swimming when time allows. I hope to learn more about the different perspectives and cultures of people living in India and maybe a few words in a different language. This is a great way to broaden my horizons and make new friends!

Mahasweta Sharma,
Miranda House, University of Delhi

Mahasweta Sarma

The urge to grasp the fresh air of diversity, culture and society has always left me intrigued and has helped me to hustle away from my home state of Assam (northeast India) to the capital of India—the fascinating city of Delhi. This urge continues and through the e-Pals initiative, I believe that my urge and drive towards knowing more about different cultures and dialogues will become a reality.

I'm Mahasweta Sarma and I am currently pursuing my bachelor's degree in Political Science at Miranda House, University of Delhi. My interests lies in public policy and global affairs. I also love to sing, dance, talk to new people, watch movies and learn interesting historical facts, among others. The e-Pals initiative will help me to know the rich cultures of others, but also to know the challenges that they face, their similarities and dissimilarities with ours, and a way forward to solve related challenges. Through this initiative, I will be able to recreate and cultivate my ideas.

I realize that challenges are a reality of life and society and through this initiative, I will try to dive deep into them and find a suitable way forward. I believe that my academic and field experiences will help bring vigor in the sessions as my sight is always to the democratization of knowledge as far as possible. My e-Pal and I are looking forward to interesting sessions of ideation, knowledge and cultural exchange. The e-Pals initiative is a way to cut across boundaries, ideate something for the whole of the community, and show the vigour and skills of the present generation from different backgrounds.

Anum Khan,
University of Guelph

My name is Anum Khan. I am a first year student at the University of Guelph, majoring in neuroscience. Academically, I am very interested in the field of One Health, due to my interest in human, animal and environmental health. However, I am still unsure about what I hope to pursue as a future career. My hobbies include reading, painting, and photography. Through the e-Pals initiative, I hope to learn more about India, especially from a cultural and arts perspective. Currently, my teammate and I have been discussing our programs of study, appreciation for the arts, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in our respective countries. I look forward to working on the final project with my partner, as we create not only an engaging final project, but also what will hopefully be a close friendship in the future.

Sharannya Chatterjee,
Ambedkar University Delhi

Sharannya Chatterjee

I am currently pursuing an honours bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Ambedkar University Delhi. I would like to pursue a career in Human Resources. I play an Indian classical instrument, the Sarod, and hold a Government of India scholarship in the same field. My e-Pal and I have been talking about study programs, music, painting and how the pandemic has changed everything globally, while working towards our final project as well. The e-Pals initiative is a great way of exchanging ideas and working on research activities as well as establishing new connections and fostering interdisciplinary collaborative efforts between India and Canada.

Supported by:

  • Ambedkar University Delhi: Dr. Rachna Mehra, Dr. Urfat Anjem Mir, and Dr. Krishna Ram
  • Miranda House College for Women, New Delhi: Dr. Bijayalaxmi Nanda, Dr. Hena Singh and Dr. Shruti Sharma Sethi
  • University of Guelph: Dr Ayesha Ali, Dr. Elizabeth Finnis, Dr. Bharat Punjabi, Dr. Sharada Srinivasan, Aadhyashree Pant (student)