Students Make their Voices Heard During International Education Week

Students Make their Voices Heard During International Education Week

Reflecting on his first year at Northeastern University in Toronto, MPS Analytics student Emmanuel Nasamu had this to say: “I looked myself in the mirror and said: ‘Yes, you did it!’” Emmanuel shared his story as part of a student panel marking International Education Week (IEW). Founded by U.S. State and Education Departments this annual celebration highlights the importance of globally oriented learning, with the aim of centering the voices and experiences of international students.

Deniz Toker is the Global Learner Support Specialist at the Toronto campus and was responsible for developing and leading this year’s IEW events and activities, in collaboration with other Northeastern departments. “IEW is all about the celebration of international education, multiculturalism, and diversity”, said Deniz. “It’s a great opportunity for Northeastern staff and faculty to learn from our international student population and widen our horizons.”

Northeastern’s Global Learner Support (GLS) team is the driving force behind IEW events in Toronto and across Northeastern’s global campus network. The mission of GLS is to provide learners with high-quality language, cultural, and academic support, while promoting the development of intercultural competence and global understanding. Values that were reflected in the various events that took place across the week.

The week kicked off with a Dinner Dialogues session, a joint effort with Student Wellness Program Specialist Hilda Firempong, where students talked about identity and language over food. “It was an eye-opening experience”, said Deniz. “The students felt really comfortable and started to share their stories around language, accents, and stereotypes.” Tuesday saw a special virtual edition of the Global Village series, which is an occasion for students to make connections and build understanding of diverse global cultures. This was followed on Wednesday by a Global Games Day put on by the Toronto Student Services team. Students took a break from studying to relax with some international games including Okey, a tile game originating in Turkey. The week wrapped up with students heading off-campus to be part of a West African Drum Circle, learning how to play the instrument as well some of the meaning behind the tradition.

Thursday’s International Student Experience Panel may have been the highlight of IEW. Five students joined Anna Choudhury, Director of the Office of Global Services Canada, to talk about their Northeastern journey and the experience of studying in a new country. When asked to discuss what drew her to Toronto as a destination, MS Project Management student Jhoana Benedicto pointed to Canada’s reputation for safety. Analytics student Mehadi Hussain Meer was attracted by a program that was shaped to the needs of the market and that offered unique experiential learning opportunities.

Each panellist experienced challenges adapting to a new culture and learning environment. From chilly Canadian weather to different expectations around learning and self-directed study, becoming a Northeastern student tested the resolve and adaptability of each student. Anna was struck by the growth of a cohort she has helped guide through the international student journey:

“I was in touch with many of the students prior to their arrival in Canada, and seeing how they are thriving now, after being so anxious before they started their program makes me feel proud of the experience and support they receive as students at Northeastern University.”

The panel was a fitting culmination for a week that is all about highlighting the experiences of international students. It concluded with the panellists offering some advice and motivation for students at the start of their Northeastern journey:

“Trust the Process.”

“You can do it.”

“Luck favours the brave, and a brave person is someone who doesn’t quit trying!”

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