Quebec students take in Ontario culture during Brock studies

Guillaume Brassard-Méthot began the summer with the opportunity to study almost anywhere in Canada at his feet.

It didn’t take long for the industrial relations student from Quebec’s Laval University to decide where he would land to improve his English language skills.

“Brock was my first choice and I was very happy to come here,” Brassard-Méthot said after spending a month studying in St. Catharines. In addition to his own research, he was swayed by the glowing testimonial of a friend who spent last summer at Brock and praised the University for its programming and beautiful setting.

Brassard-Méthot is now finishing up his time in the government-funded Explore program, through which students choose from 19 different institutions to practise their English over the summer and experience the diversity of other cultures across the country.

Explore program participant Guillaume Brassard-Méthot (second from right), an industrial relations student from Laval University in Quebec, visits Niagara Falls with his new classmates as part of an organized day trip on July 6.

Program participants — 29 of whom studied at Brock this year — receive funding that covers tuition fees, instructional materials, meals and accommodations, workshops and other mandatory activities.

Explore students spend 20 hours per week with in-class English language instruction alongside Brock’s Summer English Language Program, a five-week course focused on improving students’ English language abilities as they prepare for further academic studies.

While improving his English was Brassard-Méthot No. 1 priority, he found meeting new classmates from other countries was also a valuable experience.

“You’re not just with Quebec students, but studying alongside people from Asia, South America and other areas,” he said. “You have the possibility to make friends from around the world.”

More than 300 students from Burundi, Canada, China, France, Japan, Korea, Martinique, Mexico, Palestine, Qatar and Ukraine are currently enrolled in summer ESL classes, one of the highest enrolments on record at Brock University.

The diversity at Brock means the only common language most students have is English, motivating them to communicate with each other and to improve their language abilities.

The Explore program included daily activities on campus, as well as a number of optional day trips to some of Ontario’s most popular attractions. Throughout July, Brassard-Méthot and his Explore peers visited Niagara Falls, went to a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game and enjoyed a winery tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Reflecting on his experience, Brassard-Méthot said he found great value in the program, particularly in the daily project class that gave students real-world scenarios to apply their learning. Students worked in groups to tackle projects with themes such as Dragon’s Den, TED Talks, ad campaigns and board games.

Working with the Dragon’s Den theme, Brassard-Méthot’s group was tasked with creating a business proposal to convince people to buy their product.

“We learned how to use business English,” he said, “which is more practical for my future career.”

When the program concludes on Friday, Aug. 2, Brassard-Méthot will return home with a valuable new set of skills to help him prosper academically and professionally.

“There have been so many different cultures to interact with and I know it will be beneficial in my future career,” he said.

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