BY SHAFAQ PARWEZ
The Student Life department at Conestoga brings the right amount of excitement to the campus to keep students entertained and engaged in a positive manner. Staff holds a range of activities, with the best known one being Cultural Diversity Week.
This event is not only an opportunity for all international students to showcase their culture, but it also helps other students to learn about different cultures. During the event, students not only get to see the dress, dance, singing and poetry of other cultures, but also get to see what it is like to speak another language.
The event features a translations activity that will bring two students, from vastly different backgrounds, together.
Rachel Kelly, circulations and resource technician at the Library Resource Centre, who is helping with Cultural Diversity Week, said, “The translations activity provides an opportunity to have one-on-one interactions with students.”
The staff at Student Life meet every September to come up with different activities for the year.
When asked about the level of interest students and staff have in these activities, Laura Black, Student Life programmer, said, “What you see is the amazing expressions of students and staff who have attended the event. I think, if you look at the committee size, it just keeps expanding. We now have over 19 different partners across the college that come together and dedicate time to this event specifically.”
Black also said the number of students who keep coming back to talk about cultural diversity every year is increasing. She said students come as early as the first week of classes to learn more about the diverse cultures present at the college.
The number of participants is also growing.
“We have hundreds of participants through all our activities throughout that week,” said Black.
Cultural Diversity Week at Conestoga also goes hand in hand with the Respect campaign at the campus. “They both share the same values of creating a respectful environment, whether on-campus or off-campus,” Black said.
The basic aim of both of the campaigns is to provide an opportunity to everybody to get connected, learn and share different experiences.
Black is also quick to point out that these opportunities are not restricted to just Doon campus, they extend to all other Conestoga campuses as well.
The staff also said activities such as Cultural Diversity Week are supported by faculty, Student Services and other departments.
It will be celebrated three times in 2016; once per semester.
Black said the level of enthusiasm shown by international students specifically for this week is commendable.
“International students who are new to Canada are just happy to share the knowledge and expertise of their culture with other people,” she said. “That doesn’t happen very often and it’s such an open, safe environment to be able to do so.”
All this exchange of positive and enlightening information creates a feeling of harmony and mutual respect at the college.
Tamin Cobb, a writing consultant in the Learning Commons, said, “Right now, we’re at the beginning of the semester and the returning students are starting to walk by the departments and starting to wave at you. It makes you feel so happy because we have built that connection with that student.”
Cobb said the importance of Cultural Diversity Week cannot be over-emphasized.
“As a human, you love to share and you have this curiosity… So you want to have a way to get in to make that connection and that person wants to be able to share that information. At this event, you have that gateway.”