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The last word(s): inclusive internationalization

The last word(s): inclusive internationalization

After retiring this year as director of the Queen's University International Centre, Wayne Myles looks back at his work at QUIC.
[photo of Wayne Myles]Wayne Myles outside the QUIC offices. P hoto: University Communications

When I’m asked, “What makes the Queen’s ­University International Centre (QUIC) ­special?” I find it easy to say – “The staff, the ­students and the unique role that we play at Queen’s.”

While our work supporting international students and those preparing to study abroad is key to QUIC’s mission, it is the intercultural training work in which we have been involved over the past 10 years that may be the most significant contribution that we can make in the years ahead.

As the campus becomes more diverse, our institutional challenge is to create an ethos on campus that is welcoming and open to the very ­different ways of seeing and knowing the world that all members of the campus community bring with them. To this end, QUIC’s orientation and intercultural programs aim to assist students to make a successful social, academic and cultural transition to their new home, whether at Queen’s or abroad.

How well we enable students to negotiate, adapt to and accept difference is the hallmark of the ‘inclusive internationalized’ campus.

Queen’s has made significant efforts to add ­international dimensions to courses and exchange and study abroad opportunities, and to increase the numbers of international students on campus. The key challenge, however, is in helping all members of our campus community to develop the intercultural skills and knowledge to work effectively with the increasingly diverse ways of seeing and knowing the world that converge in our classrooms, our co-curricular activities and in the field.

Current ­research in the field of international ­education leadership looks at not just the ­“internationalized” campus but also at the “inclusive ­internationalized” campus. How well we enable students to negotiate, adapt to and accept difference is the hallmark of the “inclusive internationalized” campus.

Presenting and practising intercultural knowledge and skills, both in the classroom and outside of it, can transform the way Queen’s graduates make decisions in the world upon ­graduation. Acquiring intercultural competence is one way of increasing our graduates’ competence as global citizens. It is through this process that Queen’s can become a truly international ­university.

What I take away from almost 50 years at Queen’s (since I was an undergraduate here and from my 32 years as the director of QUIC), is a tremendous respect for the thousands of international students who have come to Queen’s and who have adapted to the social and academic ­culture here.

In many cases, their success in achieving their academic goals required the ­development of the intercultural competence that I mentioned above. Their success bears ­witness to their determination and patience.

A tribute to Queen’s is that many of these students, upon graduation, have taken up prominent roles in government, industry and post-secondary ­education across the globe and in Canada.

The ­relationships that I developed with so many ­students and visiting faculty over the years, and with members of the Queen’s community who committed themselves to supporting the ­students through their acculturation process, are invaluable rewards for a job that I loved doing.

I am very honoured to have been a part of their lives and a part of the valuable work of the ­International Centre.

Wayne Myles was director of QUIC from 1982 until his retirement this summer.

[Queen's Alumni Review 2014 issue 4 cover]