Campus Life  

International Education Week highlights diversity at Okanagan College

Three women pose together in front of Brazil's national flag during International Education Week at Okanagan College's Kelowna campus

Okanagan College translated its diverse student population into a learning opportunity during International Education Week (IEW) as students and staff celebrated cultures and encouraged each other to experience what other countries had to offer. 

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, the Kelowna campus held language lessons at the Centre for Learning atrium, where student volunteers set up booths that others can visit to learn a bit more about various languages and cultures. Languages represented included Spanish, Punjabi, Hindi, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Bengali and Portuguese.

In addition to language instruction at the booths, there were also various games and crafts.

International Student Liaison Sora Chang is one of the organizers of OC's IEW Kelowna event, and she said it was amazing to see staff and students interacting with each other face to face.

"The students really loved it. Volunteers, after COVID, this is their first time chatting with other students in person," she said. "This is a great chance for international students to meet Canadian students as well and come together."

She said events and initiatives like IEW are important not only to encourage international students at the College to share their language and culture, but also to inspire other students to explore culture, but also to inspire other students to explore cultures and perspectives outside of their own.

Heather Carson with Athletics, Recreation and Student Life said they want students to be open to the possibilities of international studies.

“How exciting would it be to do a semester abroad?” she said. “How else do you learn about other countries if you don’t immerse yourself in the culture?”

Student volunteers Lilian Queiroz and Ana Brito said it was exciting to share facts about Brazil, their home country, Brazil as well as teach other students some Portuguese. The two students are currently studying English at OC, with plans to register for other courses soon.

“It’s amazing because we can teach some words in Portuguese and others can teach us words in English and share about their countries too,” Queiroz said. “It’s a rich experience to teach something you know and learning with other people too.”

“My teachers have been great here and I have a great opportunity here,” Brito said.

Another volunteer, Aziza Khan, said she felt grateful to teach other OC community members about Bangladesh and her Bengali language. She said teaching others her language and learning from other students at the same time was enjoyable. 

“In Bangladesh, many Bengali people sacrificed their lives to establish this language in 1952. So sharing it is important to me and I just feel honoured and proud to be able to do this,” Khan added.

The Kelowna campus had other events planned throughout the week, in addition to activities at the other three campuses. 

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