BY NICOLE CLARK
A group of third-year nursing students recently held Games Night, an informational night of fun and socialization for international students.
The event was held on March 20 in the Welcome Centre at Conestoga College’s Doon campus. It included video games, food, meditative drawing and stress ball-making stations, and was held to provide information to international students regarding sexual health, mental health, nutrition, exercise and landlord laws. The event also provided the students with an opportunity to meet and interact with new people.
Conestoga College currently has over 2,500 international students from 80 different countries amidst an overall full-time student population of 12,500. To have events such as this one, aimed at helping to smooth the transition to Canadian living, is an integral part of an international student’s college life.
Beth Shortt, a third-year bachelor of science and nursing Conestoga-McMaster student who helped organize and run the event, said, “We held this event to raise awareness of mental health, sexual health and nutrition issues. I focused on stress and art therapy. I have been using zentangle, which is a form of artistic meditation. I also talked to students about ways to reduce stress.”
As to why Shortt and her fellow group members made the decision to hold the event, Shortt said, “We had a games night instead of a hallway health booth so that we could get to know international students on a more personal level. Also, because our research has shown these types of events to be more effective.”
Gurpreet Singh, a first-year mobile solution development student, said, “It’s fun. Right now, I think it will be helpful.” Originally from Punjab, India, he has been in Canada since August and in Ontario since September. Other than the free food, why did Singh decide to attend the night’s event? He was hoping to meet new people, a sentiment felt by most of those in attendance.
Lucas Coelho, a first-year energy systems engineering technology student at Conestoga, said, “It is nice to meet new people outside of my program. The information is nice about the landlord and the food information.” Coelho, who is from Brazil and has been in Canada since September, was also drawn to the event by the lure of free food, and was happy to come away with new acquaintances and friends to talk to.
Nim Nayakarathna, a first-year information technology business analysis student, has been in Canada for only two months and is originally from Sri Lanka. He said on behalf of himself and his friend, “At the moment, most of our interactions are with Indians, we rarely interact with Canadians or English-speaking people. That’s why we came to this event, to mingle with you guys. We came here for a change, to meet new people. We see the same faces every day, so we came here to meet new people and make new friends. We are searching for events like this, to make new friends.”
When questioned whether the event was informative, Nayakarathna responded, “Yes, definitely.”
Thasneem Thowfeeq, a first-year information technology business analysis student, also from Sri Lanka, said he enjoyed the event as well. “It’s really nice, we like the stress balls.”