Our International Relations program students arrived earlier this week and it has been quite the start! Our students have started taking their language courses, attending lectures and participating in some very relevant workshops.
This week our students participated in a Workshop on Cultural Competency. During this time, the students shared with each other the stories about their names – with many sharing the proper pronunciation in their native languages, describing the different meanings, explaining why their parents decided to call them as they are, as well as the generational or cultural significance each name had in connection to their family origins.
After discussing their stories, the students reflected on this activity. They shared their thoughts with the group about why they thought such an exercise was significant. Many connected their stories to first impressions, identity, culture, worldview, among other aspects of importance. Others expressed a consideration of value systems, such as the open-mindedness necessary to curiously ask people about what makes them different in comparison to our own backgrounds. Overall, the staff involved were able to appreciate the bonds being created during this exercise as they observed how many were getting to know each other for the first time or were getting to know their peer from a new perspective.
Following this, the students had the opportunity to go by different corners of the room and express their thoughts on posters titled: “Questions”, “Concerns”, “Commitments” and “Hopes”. Through this exercise, the students were able to discuss their thoughts amongst themselves and process their expectations as they start their program.
The students have been very engaged not only throughout this workshop, but with the many other activities planned. We are looking forward to hearing about what they will be learning and are excited to share more as the days progress.