Connecting cultures at Wilfrid Laurier

Photo by Ryan Hueglin

Photo by Ryan Hueglin

Feb. 23 to 28 is Global Engagement Week at Wilfrid Laurier University. The week is being put on by Laurier

International for the first year ever and is centered on exposing students to different cultures as well as connecting students from diverse backgrounds.

Various events are taking place on both the Waterloo and Brantford campuses throughout the week, with the aim of exploring the theme of globalization.

“The objective of the week is to try and engage students and develop an awareness of the diversity that is on campus, with students, faculty and opportunities,” said Phyllis Power, global engagement programming manager.

“We are trying to get students to start exploring ideas of the deeper networks and connections we make on a global level, both positively and negatively.”

Power said the push for Global Engagement Week came from trying to prepare students for life after they graduate.

“We are trying to develop opportunities for personal development for students to help engage students and learn about the world around them. This week is one way of how to encompass a wider global perspective of the world.”

The Global Fair was held on Monday in the Concourse and gave students the opportunity to engage with various campus groups, such as the Laurier Bollywood Association. Komal Kumar, treasurer for the Laurier Bollywood Association, sees the week as an opportunity to show her culture to others.

“I think the biggest part of Global Engagement is the sharing of our culture and for the ability to share everything we know and for others to develop opinions on it. It gets people to know the other side of an aspect of our culture that is important to us,” said Kumar.

Andriana Vinnitchok, director of outgoing exchanges for AIESEC, sees this week as a positive experience for Laurier students.

“It grants the opportunity to inform other people about possibilities on campus that involve students exploring the world around them. In Canada we are multicultural and it’s great to meet people who are interested in learning more about what that means to them.”

The campus partners that are partaking in the week were selected by an advisory committee who were looking for people involved with Laurier International and areas of the university they “thought [they] would have synergy with,” according to Power.

However, the fair on Monday saw a lot of empty tables by campus groups that did not show. While no comment was given for the absence, the organizers for the week see this as a part of the learning curves of being a pilot year for the week.

“We were not looking so much at the numbers of involvement this year, as the impact we are having on the student body as a whole,” said Powers. “It’s not so much about what is popular, but what is having the most impact and getting people talking.”

“This is where we need to focus on for next year, the level of student engagement,” said Ben Yang, director for Global Engagement Week. “There are many competing events happening on campus, plus students are busy, so it’s a matter of finding the best way to approach them.”

Yang said part of this development for next year would come from working closer with Laurier faculty members.

“We want to work more with the faculty on campus to help promote the week. If a professor were to make an announcement, that it is relevant for students to come out, more would sense the need to do so. I think it would be more successful.”

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