Trent cel­e­brates abun­dance of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - GLENNICE BURNS GUEST COLUM­NIST Glennice Burns is the as­so­ci­ate vice-pres­i­dent, in­ter­na­tional at Trent Univer­sity

As we kick off In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Week, I am en­cour­aged by the po­ten­tial that a glob­ally-minded ed­u­ca­tion can bring to our cam­puses and com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly right here in Peterborou­gh and the Kawarthas.

At Trent Univer­sity, our com­mit­ment to in­ter­na­tion­al­ized ed­u­ca­tion is strong. In­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ences add value to our cam­puses, both in Peterborou­gh and in the Durham Re­gion, and bring vi­brancy to stu­dent and com­mu­nity life.

Large ci­ties ben­e­fit from an an­nual in­flux of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in ob­vi­ous ways. Their con­tri­bu­tions to smaller ci­ties across the coun­try are of­ten far less rec­og­nized. In­ter­na­tional stu­dents sup­port lo­cal economies at the same time that they bring cul­tural and in­tel­lec­tual per­spec­tives that ex­pand our un­der­stand­ing of the world. A stronger fo­cus on in­ter­na­tion­al­ized ed­u­ca­tion can trans­form a com­mu­nity and lo­cal econ­omy, in a way that nur­tures tal­ent, builds world­li­ness and bridges be­tween dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties, and en­cour­ages Cana­di­ans to step out of their cul­tural com­fort zones.

Those who choose to study in Canada can bring and de­velop skills that can ad­dress labour short­ages — whether they be in the skilled trades, fi­nance, or high-de­mand ca­reers like nurs­ing. Tal­ent is mo­bile and we need to at­tract it from around the world if we want to be glob­ally com­pet­i­tive.

In smaller com­mu­ni­ties like ours, es­pe­cially in the con­text of fluc­tu­at­ing em­ploy­ment rates and hous­ing in­sta­bil­ity, we need to view in­ter­na­tional tal­ent, not as com­pe­ti­tion, but as po­ten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tors who can sup­port economic and cul­tural de­vel­op­ment.

The ar­rival of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in smaller ci­ties can be ac­com­pa­nied by mul­ti­cul­tural shock on both sides. But this can, when sup­ported well, build stronger com­mu­ni­ties in a way that is au­then­tic and en­gag­ing. Post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions and com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions (like the New Cana­di­ans Cen­tre here in Peterborou­gh) can fos­ter an at­mos­phere of shar­ing. Mu­sic, dance and food can be the best way to learn about other cul­tures at the same time that lo­cals share unique as­pects of Cana­dian cul­ture.

In­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion is a twoway street. Send­ing our stu­dents to an­other coun­try for an in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence can mean a short-term course abroad, the study of a lan­guage, a joint-de­gree pro­gram, or one of the many op­tions in be­tween. All of th­ese fos­ter and en­hance their per­spec­tives.

This week at Trent, as part of In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Week, stu­dents will have the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore op­por­tu­ni­ties to study abroad, ex­pe­ri­ence flavours and cul­tures of stu­dents from around the world, and also to learn about the best ways to mar­ket their own in­ter­na­tion­al­ized ed­u­ca­tion.

We are also wel­com­ing glob­ally-rec­og­nized am­bas­sador for in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment and hu­man rights, Stephen Lewis, as a keynote speaker on Mon­day, to talk about the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion in cre­at­ing a world of good. This is an op­por­tune time for mem­bers of the Trent com­mu­nity, and the com­mu­nity-at-large in Peterborou­gh, to re­flect on the ways we can chal­lenge the way we think about gain­ing a more worldly per­spec­tive.

SPE­CIAL TO THE EX­AM­INER

In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Week at Trent Univer­sity be­gins Mon­day, and in­cludes a keynote ad­dress from Stephen Lewis Mon­day and other events.

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