Omar López felt like he was on the set of a big screen film.
In his mind, Brock’s campus seemed plucked straight from a coming-of-age story about university life.
“It’s like a dream,” said the Mexico City resident, just days after beginning his Brock studies. “When you see a movie about college and university, I picture it like this.”
López was among a group of 50 students from Mexico who came to the University to improve their language skills and experience Canadian culture for the first time.
They arrived in Canada earlier this week through a joint government program with Mexico called Proyecta. The initiative, which will see an additional 50 students arrive to Brock Aug. 5, provides undergraduate students and teachers in Mexico with scholarships for English as a second language (ESL) programming to further their academic and professional aspirations.
The Proyecta students were not the only ones experiencing Brock’s campus — and Canada, for that matter — for the first time this week.
Students from around the world came together in anticipation of the start of Brock’s Summer English Language Program (SELP), a five-week course focused on improving students’ English language abilities as they prepare for further academic studies.
This term has marked one of the University’s highest enrolments on record for ESL summer programming, with more than 300 students from Burundi, Canada, China, France, Japan, Korea, Martinique, Mexico, Palestine, Qatar and Ukraine registered.
In addition to SELP and Proyecta participants, more than 230 students are enrolled in Brock’s Intensive English Language Program (IELP), making the International Centre, on the east end of Brock’s main campus, a hub for intercultural learning and understanding.
Proyecta student Jocsan Flor was hopeful the abundance of students from around the world would make for some interesting mingling opportunities.
“I hope to meet people from different cultures and get a better appreciation for them,” he said.
“Diversity is part of what makes this program so exciting,” said Geoffrey Harrington Eden, Associate Director, Brock ESL Services. “Students have the opportunity to experience local culture, but also interact with classmates from 11 different countries this summer.”
As part of the SELP program, students spend 20 hours per week with in-class English language instruction alongside French Canadian students from Canada’s Explore Program.
Summer programming includes not only classroom time, but also daily activities on campus and a number of optional day trips. The optional excursions make SELP a great choice for students coming to Canada for the first time, Eden said, as it provides discounted access to a number of Ontario’s most popular attractions.
“They also provide real-world opportunities for students to apply their learning,” he said.
When the SELP program concludes Aug. 2, students will return home with a valuable new set of skills to help them prosper in their future careers.
Eden expects students to have more confidence in using the English language, but also more intercultural awareness and understanding that will help make the world a more inclusive, equitable and welcoming place for all.