It seems like that Kingston will welcome the first week of April with a mix of rain and sunshine. For students who are wrapping up their final week of tutorials, volunteering works, or other events, this is also a hectic time to meet competing deadlines.
After that, a happy summer waves its hand ahead.
As a recent graduate, however, I take up a different perspective on the academic life at a post-secondary institution, in which my current position as an International Coordinator in my program invests part of reason.
For most of students, going to grad school is never about just obtaining a degree. In the case of international students, things get more complex. Like their domestic counterparts, academic study offers a path to thrive in one’s career and personal life. However, in order to be successful, the international students have to overcome more challenges and barriers in their effort of academic and social integration.
In my research project investigating the international student’s experience in Canada, I find one of the reasons that hinder the the success, and yet is promising to work on, is the lack of understanding (or the initiative of it) of the domestic students towards the diverse cultural values and the realities of cultural clashes.
This is NOT to blame the Canadian students’ inability to appreciate multi-culture. In fact, the system in a whole is the source of the widening gap. If university increases the enrollment rate of international student without putting effort on enhancing mutual understanding and creating more inclusive environment, if the act of attracting global talents is not bolstered by the break down of unconscious bias, if the critical, dialectical and multi-perspectival ways of thinking are not taught and cultivated through day-to-day academic interaction, how do we expect students who never have any international experience take initiative to understand and connect to their international fellows who might be suffering isolation, loss or fear in a remote country?
As one of my intellectual colleagues had mentioned,
“The transformation has to be inside out too”.
Fortunately, while the coming spring signals the resurrection of lives, hope of change sprouts at Queen’s and in Kingston.
Six Queen’s community members are named to the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion for initiating meaningful and sustainable change on the issue of racism, diversity, and inclusion; annual Diversity Works Symposium successfully enterprised the collaboration between the city of Kingston, local employers and service providers to improve the employability of international workers and immigrants. The two events happening on March aimed to educate the insiders’ mind. As a witness, and sometimes a participant, I am excited to anticipate that soon, the change can be solid.