The International Education Office at Durham College (DC) helps students by answering questions, organizing events, giving out scholarships and helping students cope with any issues they might have in a land miles away from their home country.
It also organizes many cultural events to celebrate their diversity.
Lindsay Tait has been an International student advisor at DC International for almost a year and a half. She, along with her colleagues, organizes these events for the students.
With students here from countries all around the world, the office organizes cultural events that are celebrated in their home countries. In 2019, the office organized Korean Thanksgiving as well as a Chinese New Year celebration, with regional delicacies.
Holi is an Indian festival, an event that was also supposed to be celebrated on March 12 at the Oshawa Music Hall. However, Tait said that it was cancelled due to COVID-19.
One of the biggest events of the year is Pangaea, which DC has been hosting since 2009. Pangaea is to honour the language and culture of different countries and highlights the diversity across campus. It is a partnership event in collaboration with Ontario Tech University. Students on campus participate in the event and show the cultures from their countries.
“Pangaea is one of the biggest celebrations on campus. Biggest event means biggest resources from different areas of the college and university,” said Tait. Before this year, it has been held every single year. But due to the world crisis, the event was cancelled.
DC has welcomed many cultures and embraced them, but the college also wants to show international students Canadian culture, according to Tait.
“We give students an opportunity to show in their culture, but now it is an opportunity for us to teach students about the Indigenous way of life, a little bit of where we came from as well,” said Tait.
To achieve that, international students were taken on a trip to the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough to show the life of the First Peoples of Canada, and to familiarize them with their new culture and community.
The First Peoples Indigenous Centre also organized the Red Dress Campaign in February to bring attention and awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous women.
The International office works with other departments, as well, to share all cultures on campus. Durham College Students Inc. (DCSI), the student union, organized an International student orientation event focused on a winter wonderland, with Canadian cultural food such as poutine, Beaver Tails and more iconic Canadian food.
“When we look at diversity, we look at all cultures,” Tait said.
An ice skating social was to be held on March 5, co-hosted by the International Education Office and the Office of Student Diversity, Inclusion and Transitions. The event included hot chocolate and skating in the Campus Ice Centre.
DCSI and the International office also organized a trip to Sugar Beach in Toronto to welcome spring and celebrate maple syrup on March 14. Due to the pandemic, this event was also cancelled so students could not enjoy another Canadian event.
International students also help the International office by volunteering for events.
“Our events would not be as successful as they are, without the incredible volunteer team,” said Tait.