Great Plains celebrates first International Education Week
An influx of international students has brought a new cultural dynamic to the Great Plains College campus in Swift Current.
Great Plains College celebrated their inaugural International Education Week this past week, with the highlight event of the celebration a fourcourse multicultural lunch and cultural dance demonstration on November 15.
“There has been an infusion of 40 international students, and they are really enriching the atmosphere I think. It’s just amazing to have them around and to have that different cultural experience, and the opportunity for them to enrich the lives of our own students, as well as enrich their own lives,” explained Kirsty Sletten, Manager of Admissions and International at Great Plains College.
The College had previously accepted only a small number of international students to the campus, but they have now expanded the international student numbers in both their Administrative Assistant and Business Certificate programs. After a series of successful recruiting trips, this September the college welcomed 40 first year students from India, Mexico, the Philippines and Venezuela.
Sletten noted the field of international education is a huge industry. They have partnered with M Square Media, an agent management company who works with education agents in countries around the world to connect students and promote academic institutions.
She explained there are some clear advantages for students pursuing their education in an institution the size of Great Plains College.
“My personal opinion on that is the fact that when a student has to come to a different country, a different culture, a different language, there is no better place than Great Plains College for that type of education to happen. There are small class sizes. There’s still very much a family-type environment here. There’s the opportunity for them to have a lot of instructor support, a lot of institutional support. All of those things really make for an amazing experience for international students.”
She said the first months of the large number of international students have gone relatively smoothly.
“So far, from an institutional perspective, it’s been fantastic,” Sletten said.
“From a student perspective, because I have a lot to do with the students of course, overseeing the international side of the program. The students are thrilled. They are so happy. They’re just really pleased with the quality of education they’re getting, they’re pleased with the instructors that they have. They’re pleased with the campus and the experiences they’re having on campus. They’re loving the community and the opportunity to be a part of a community such as Swift Current. The snow was a big thing for them, they thought that was pretty amazing. The rest of us were rolling our eyes, but they were loving it.”
The multicultural campus has also been a benefit to students attending from across the Southwest, as the new students have enriched the campus through their sharing of culture and international experiences.
“I think that’s inevitable. I think the opportunity for them to just make those connections with domestic students. And to discuss the the differences in the way that we live compared to the way that they lived in their own countries. Food, dance, their celebrations.”
“That to me is the ultimate value of international education.”
Great Plains College completed a second international recruiting trip earlier in the fall, with visits to Germany, Switzerland, Vietnam and the Philippines. There are also plans in place to make a third recruitment trip in early 2019.
Some of the current group of international students are aiming to secure permanent residency in Canada, and studying at the college is a pathway to that goal.
“We’re hopeful that they’ll be able to continue to become citizens of Canada potentially and add to our workforce and create those global connections that are really valuable in today’s business world,” Sletten said.
Additional information about the college’s international program can be found on their website greatplainscollege.ca/international.
The dancing duo “Punjabi Empire” shared a high energy display of Indian dance during an International Education Week celebration at Great Plains College on November 15.