It’s an exciting time to be living and working in Europe, as the European Union struggles with economic downturn and social upheaval. Living in the midst of this time of historic change is a stimulating challenge for Nadja Schauer, BVG ’03, Second Secretary of the Mission of Canada to the European Union. Nadja is based in Brussels, Belgium, where the EU is headquartered.
“The different dynamics are very interesting,” says Nadja, smiling. “Canada and the EU are close to finalizing a trade agreement that is the biggest and most comprehensive for Canada since the NAFTA. I am a member of the Trade and Economic team, working primarily on energy issue, which gives me some opportunity to work on Environmental issues as well.”
Born in Germany, Nadja moved to Canada at the age of 13. She spoke very little English when she joined the Grade 8 class at Bayview Glen, but everyone was warm and welcoming, and she soon settled in. “The teachers took extra care to make sure I understood everything,” Nadja recalls. “It was so helpful.”
“Bayview Glen is very international and exposed me to a lot of different cultures,” says Nadja. “In the summer of Grade 10, through the School’s affiliation with Round Square, I had the opportunity to do a two-month exchange to South Africa, where I lived with a family and attended the local school. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience and later, at Queen’s University, I didn’t hesitate to take advantage of a semester abroad, spending six months attending university in Santiago, Chile.”
“Tourist travel is fun, but living in a culture is more interesting,” she continues. “It’s almost like becoming a local and I like the challenge of seeing if I can do it, and if I can integrate and adjust. Canada is a young country and so it is fascinating to experience older traditions that date far back in time. “
After graduating from Bayview Glen, Nadja decided to study Commerce at Queen’s University. “Mr. Hammond, the University Counsellor, really helped me with my application. I believe that my Round Square experience at Bayview Glen and being a member of the Student Executive Council there also contributed to me being accepted to the competitive Commerce program.“
After graduating with Bachelor of Commerce degree, Nadja was hired as a Senior Analyst at CIBC. “It was a great job and I was on the leadership training track,” Nadja recalls, “but deep down I knew my heart was not in it. I had attended a presentation on the Canadian Foreign Service while at Queen’s, and that idea had stuck with me. I decided to write the exam and explore the possibilities.”
After being accepted into the Foreign Service Development Program and spending nine months learning French on a full-time basis, Nadja’s first role with the Canadian Government was as a Trade Policy Analyst with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, which exposed her to a wide range of projects in the trade policy area. After two years there, Nadja was offered the opportunity to take the three-year posting to Brussels and she was excited to take it.
“My work demands that I am a fast learner and grasp my portfolio quickly,” Nadja says. “Bayview Glen taught me the basic principles: do your homework, do your best, be dedicated in your approach. Mrs. Kular in Economics often reminded us that if this were real life, a real job, we would be expected to reach a high standard. I have always remembered that.”
The Bayview Glen experience has shaped Nadja’s life in many ways. Her fiancé, Karim Raouda, is a Bayview Glen graduate, and they plan to marry in Belgium in August 2013. Her maid of honour is her sister, Janina (BVG ’06) and her bridesmaids are all Glenners: Maria Lagopoulos (BVG ’03), Hiroko Ninomiya (BVG ’02) and Aliya Anwar (BVG ’03), so she has made lasting friendships with fellow alumni.
Nadja is very happy personally and professionally. “I find working for the Canadian government is very rewarding because I am on the Trade side, which has a direct impact on Canadian businesses and, therefore, on Canadian citizens, “ says Nadja. “I interact with clients and contacts on a regular basis, working to provide real solutions to real problems. It is gratifying that the work I do is appreciated and valued by Canada.”
Bayview Glen is proud to include Nadja Schauer amongst our Notable Alumni.