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Thursday, 11 December 2014 09:09

International students are showcased at Medicine Hat College

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International retention officer Michele Josey gets an opportunity to participate in the oragami as Shunsuke Fujimura watches. International retention officer Michele Josey gets an opportunity to participate in the oragami as Shunsuke Fujimura watches.

There is a growing number of immigrants and newcomers making southern Alberta their home. This includes a high number of international students who make up the student population at the Medicine Hat College.

There are 230 visiting students who come from approximately 25 different countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and Mexico. This only represents students who are visiting, not students born in other countries that have come here as immigrants or refugées and are studying full time.
To give that perspective, the 2012-2013 enrolment figures includes full time (equivalent): 2,422 with the total headcount (in credit programs) topping out at 4,126.
Administration takes that to heart and the international education department makes it a priority to ensure those students are recognized. This is why International Education Week (IEW) from Nov. 17-21 is so important.
Michele Josey, student retention officer with international education, says the school is definitely diverse.
“There has become a larger presence of international students in the school. They are an asset to our classrooms,” explains Josey. “They all come from different political, as well as socio-economic communities.”
Included in international week were lectures by global tourism and marketing instructors Rick Robinson and Gail Williams; ecotourism and outdoor leadership instructor Russel Krasnuik; as well as presentations by The Connection, an inter-cultural association based out of Medicine Hat; and staff from international education. Cultural demonstrations included a student fashion show, Thai Chi instruction, origami demonstration and a talent show.
 Josey says it all went well and hopes to improve on activities next year.
“It was a great week, but really hectic,” explains Josey. “I’ve been asking my team for some constructive criticism. It’s really important for us to be doing international week ... it’s important to celebrate the diversity. We all come from somewhere and have a diverse background.”
Josey says there’s such a high turnover rate amongst international students from year to year. While there are some who are full-time students who will stay full-term to get diplomas, a majority are here for a shorter period of time three months to a year and here to learn English. Because the students aren’t here for an overly long time, it’s more difficult to make close friends or even take the time to understand what the different cultures are about, hence the popularity of the International Students Week.
“People look forward to the fashion show and the talent show,” says Josey who adds the number of performers varies from year to year. They do try to host activities in and around the cafeteria and eating area, such as the aforementioned show and calligraphy.
“Some of the other demonstrations we’ll have to get out in the public more. They’re never highly visible so we try to get them out there. We don’t have a captive audience in the school (with students going from class to class), so we try to do it at lunch time around the cafeteria when people may stop for the day.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor