Wider Horizons

Intercultural clubIt’s the first day of school. Your heart pounds and your stomach turns somersaults as you walk through Lethbridge College’s front doors for the first time. You’re ready for your classes, but you don’t know anyone and you’re nervous about making friends because this time, you’re not just in a new school, you’re in a new country, too.

Now, thanks to a recently established club at Lethbridge College, international students have a place to go to meet people and adjust to their unfamiliar environment. The Lethbridge College Students’ Association Intercultural Club, which became active in January 2012, will be a valuable resource for Lethbridge College’s international students. This year, students from 48 different countries are registered in classes at the college, and this number keeps growing. Founders of the club saw a great need to reach out to this group of students and made it their mission to promote different cultures on campus while being a voice for international students.

Nicci van Straaten of South Africa, first year Business Administration student and president of the Intercultural Club, admits to feeling lonely and isolated upon her arrival at the college.

“You so badly want to reach out and say ‘Hey, everyone I’m here’ but you don’t know where to go,” van Straaten explains. ”That’s why we thought this club would be ideal. Students who walk through the doors have somewhere to go now. They don’t have to struggle and be alone. They can come to us and we will show them around.”

Dennis Ronoh of Kenya, second year Business Administration student and vice-president of the club, says international students face many obstacles in a foreign country. Adjusting to new foods, deciphering language and accents, and bridging the gap between religious backgrounds are just a few of the challenges that visiting students face. Interacting with people in a new culture can be difficult at times. “It’s really hard to go up to someone and say hi when you don’t have anything in common,” he says.

Ronoh adds that most international students group together, which can cause additional challenges for them. When two people who don’t know what to do or where to go turn to each other for help, a solution is often difficult to find. The Intercultural Club will be a first point of contact for students needing assistance.

The Intercultural Club is a place for international students to learn about Canadian culture and each other’s countries, and to express emotions about culture and the challenges they face. It is also a forum for sharing ideas and exploring talents. The students work to dispel negative perceptions that may exist toward other cultures by sharing stories, traditional foods and activities from their home countries.

Imarú Baquero, coordinator of International Education and Services at Lethbridge College, says the Intercultural Club will benefit all students on campus, not just those visiting from other countries.

“The club will create opportunities for cross-cultural awareness and interaction between domestic and international students,” she says. “Canadian students will be exposed to different cultures and perspectives which will help them become global citizens.”

The club is newly ratified and ideas for events and activities are still brewing in the members’ heads. Many great initiatives for improving cultural awareness are coming to the table. Baquero says, “The activities will involve showcasing different cultures on campus and promoting understanding between students with different cultural backgrounds.”

The Intercultural Club executive is anticipating significant interest in the club. To learn about upcoming meetings and events you can visit the club’s Facebook page, Lethbridge College Intercultural Club, or contact members through the LCSA. All students from all countries, including Canada, are welcome.

“We’ve got big plans for this club, we really do,” says van Straaten. “And we’re very excited about it.”

It’s the first day of school. Your heart pounds and your stomach turns somersaults as you walk through Lethbridge College’s front doors for the first time. You’re ready for your classes, but you don’t know anyone and you’re nervous about making friends because this time, you’re not just in a new school, you’re in a new country, too.

Now, thanks to a recently established club at Lethbridge College, international students have a place to go to meet people and adjust to their unfamiliar environment. The Lethbridge College Students’ Association Intercultural Club, which became active in January 2012, will be a valuable resource for Lethbridge College’s international students. This year, students from 48 different countries are registered in classes at the college, and this number keeps growing. Founders of the club saw a great need to reach out to this group of students and made it their mission to promote different cultures on campus while being a voice for international students.

Nicci van Straaten of South Africa, first year Business Administration student and president of the Intercultural Club, admits to feeling lonely and isolated upon her arrival at the college.

“You so badly want to reach out and say ‘Hey, everyone I’m here’ but you don’t know where to go,” van Straaten explains. ”That’s why we thought this club would be ideal. Students who walk through the doors have somewhere to go now. They don’t have to struggle and be alone. They can come to us and we will show them around.”

Dennis Ronoh of Kenya, second year Business Administration student and vice-president of the club, says international students face many obstacles in a foreign country. Adjusting to new foods, deciphering language and accents, and bridging the gap between religious backgrounds are just a few of the challenges that visiting students face. Interacting with people in a new culture can be difficult at times. “It’s really hard to go up to someone and say hi when you don’t have anything in common,” he says.

Ronoh adds that most international students group together, which can cause additional challenges for them. When two people who don’t know what to do or where to go turn to each other for help, a solution is often difficult to find. The Intercultural Club will be a first point of contact for students needing assistance.

The Intercultural Club is a place for international students to learn about Canadian culture and each other’s countries, and to express emotions about culture and the challenges they face. It is also a forum for sharing ideas and exploring talents. The students work to dispel negative perceptions that may exist toward other cultures by sharing stories, traditional foods and activities from their home countries.

Imarú Baquero, coordinator of International Education and Services at Lethbridge College, says the Intercultural Club will benefit all students on campus, not just those visiting from other countries.

“The club will create opportunities for cross-cultural awareness and interaction between domestic and international students,” she says. “Canadian students will be exposed to different cultures and perspectives which will help them become global citizens.”

The club is newly ratified and ideas for events and activities are still brewing in the members’ heads. Many great initiatives for improving cultural awareness are coming to the table. Baquero says, “The activities will involve showcasing different cultures on campus and promoting understanding between students with different cultural backgrounds.”

The Intercultural Club executive is anticipating significant interest in the club. To learn about upcoming meetings and events you can visit the club’s Facebook page, Lethbridge College Intercultural Club, or contact members through the LCSA. All students from all countries, including Canada, are welcome.

“We’ve got big plans for this club, we really do,” says van Straaten. “And we’re very excited about it.”

Wider Horizons
Megan Shapka
Original Publication Date:

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