It was a feast for the senses.
The welcoming aromas of traditional tea and coffee, the energizing sounds of Bollywood music and the eye-catching sights of colourful cultural tapestries filled Brock’s main campus this week in celebration of the more than 100 countries that call the University home.
It was all part of nearly three dozen events hosted by Brock International Services for International Education Week (IEW), which ran from Nov. 15 to 19. The annual event, promoted by the Canadian Bureau for International Education, is held each year on the third week of November in countries across the globe.
IEW gives Brock students the opportunity to come together as a community from around the world by engaging in on-campus and virtual events that explore the University’s diverse identity and help students build on their core competencies through a global lens.
Carolyn Villella, International Student Life Specialist, Brock International Services, who led IEW planning on campus, said the week of events was unlike any other that she could recall from her previous 12 years as a student or staff member.
“We adapted to the times with our hybrid style of events, both virtual and in person,” she said. “But at the heart of IEW was the need for human connection and the desire to be seen, heard and represented.”
Also helping to ensure events ran smoothly and adhered to all COVID-19 guidelines was Emily Vandelaar, a Student Life Assistant in Brock International Services. The Bachelor of Business Administration Co-op student, who recently completed her fourth year at Brock and spent her co-op terms working within Brock International, was thrilled to be a part of the weeklong initiative.
Villella said the University is “taking great measures to be intentional in building connections globally.”
“Food, dance and fun activities are a part of international education, but deeper exploration, awareness, engagement, collaboration and progressive action are crucial too,” she said.
International Education Week also highlighted the importance of pursuing academic studies in other countries to enhance the learning experience in the Canadian classroom and create a future of global citizens.
“We created something for everyone and took great leaps toward building cultural awareness with our global community through our daily discussions in the Learn and Connect series, while also leaving room for the entertaining aspects of our cultures,” said Villella.
For Brock’s faculty and staff, the week was a reminder about the importance of actively engaging in research in other countries to bring learning and new perspectives back to Canada to share within the local community. It also highlighted the need for partnerships with highly reputable academic institutions, and global organizations that facilitate opportunities for student and faculty engagement.
The week also facilitated discussions about the benefits of international education from accessibility and inclusivity perspectives, and about connecting with the University’s global scholar community for engagement, discussion and progressive actions.
Hosting events like International Education Week helps to strengthen the University’s commitment to comprehensive internationalization, said Kyla Pennie, Associate Director, Internationalization and Support Services.
“Comprehensive internationalization is a strategic and co-ordinated approach to supporting Brock’s Strategic Plan to offer transformational and accessible experiential global learning experiences that helps students, staff and faculty to chart a globally interconnected path within our learning community,” Pennie said.
Whether attending virtually or in-person, Villella felt that the Brock community had a unique opportunity to gain new perspectives and learn from a diverse group of faculty, staff and students.
“At a time when travel is limited, we have the advantage of being able to meet people from all backgrounds and gain an enriching experience by joining and participating in events and discussions,” Villella said. “More than ever, we see the need for community to participate and engage in these global discussions in order to take greater steps towards internationalization.”
More information about upcoming events with Brock International Services can be found on ExperienceBU.
In the below video, Rani Hansalia (in blue), a third-year Media and Communications student from India, can be seen teaching Brock University students the art of Bollywood dancing in the Ian Beddis Gymnasium during International Education Week.