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International orientation helps Laurier students adjust to their Canadian academic home
Arriving at university can be disorienting for new students – especially if the institution is in a foreign country. Fortunately for incoming international students at Laurier, the university provides a full-slate of orientation programs designed to help with the transition, and has recently ramped up its efforts in this area.
“We are welcoming record numbers of international students this term,” said Tom Buckley, Laurier’s assistant vice-president, Academic Services. “It’s fitting, then, that these students will be greeted by a renewed and re-energized international orientation program at both the Waterloo and Brantford campuses.”
Beginning this week on the Waterloo campus and next week in Brantford, international students will participate in programs designed to help them settle into life at Laurier and in Canada; adjust to the university environment; and build strong networks and communities. Activities will continue through the year as part of a broader “Succeed in Canada” program for the students.
On the Waterloo campus, orientation got underway Monday, Aug. 27, with the university welcoming 160 new international and exchange students. Running throughout this week and into O-Week, activities include an introductory lecture on Canadian culture by Kevin Spooner, associate professor of North American Studies; a “Canada 101” session on living and studying here; sessions on academics and athletics at Laurier; and trips to St. Jacobs, Niagara Falls and Algonquin Park.
“This year’s international and exchange student contingent includes students from 35 countries on the Waterloo campus. In Brantford over 1 in 6 new faces on campus will be international students,” said Peter Donahue, director of Laurier International. “We’re proud of how we treat our students from abroad, and proud of Laurier’s growing profile as a destination for students from all over the world.”
In Brantford, 20 to 30 new international students will join approximately 20 current international students and 160 students in the LEAF Program, an academic English program for students who meet Laurier’s academic requirements but not its English proficiency requirements. Beginning Sept. 3, the eight-day Brantford international orientation includes a campus tour, teambuilding activities, a session on immigration paperwork, and trips to Niagara Falls and St. Jacobs together with incoming international students on the Waterloo campus.
International orientation at Brantford is being organized by Melissa DiLeo, Laurier Brantford’s first full-time international student advisor, working closely with Student Services in Brantford.
To facilitate these programs and enhance support for new international students, the university has been training a network of returning international and domestic students to act as peer mentors for international students. On the weekend of Aug. 25-6, the university trained 35 returning students to serve as peer mentors for the Waterloo campus. The training included workshops on intercultural effectiveness and understanding cultural adjustments as well as overviews of services on campus and social event planning sessions.
A similar program will be launched later this fall in Brantford to support the 90 LEAF students now living in residence and to help the residence community enhance its intercultural competencies.