The University of Saskatchewan is home to a diverse group of students, but many may be unaware of resources on campus designed specifically to help students navigate new and unfamiliar cultural experiences. The upcoming Global Village event seeks to address this issue.
The Global Village, organized by the Global Connections Network of the International Student and Study Abroad Centre, will take place on Mar. 10. This free event, open to the wider Saskatoon community, is comprised of two parts, beginning with a formal welcome and guest speakers from 5–6 p.m. in Arts 263. An informal, come-and-go village fair will follow from 6–8:30 p.m. and includes booths, performances, food and cultural displays in the ISSAC Lounge and Training Room.
Jebunnessa Chapola, second-year doctoral student in women’s, gender and sexualities studies, vice-president academic of the Graduate Students’ Association and co-coordinator of the event, stresses that international students often do not know about ISSAC and its programs.
“Usually new-comer students … are mostly enclaved, so they do not get enough opportunities to learn about these resources, so I think that is a very important part of our event that we are going to share with our audiences,” Chapola said.
In the 2014-15 academic term, international students comprised 12.5 per cent of the student body. The Global Village hopes to connect this large number of international students with other culturally diverse students. It also aims to share social justice knowledge and raise awareness about ISSAC and other internationally oriented groups, such as Intercordia and the U of S Association for Exchange and International Students.
Patricia Bautista, a second-year accounting student and co-coordinator with Chapola, began work as a student assistant with ISSAC in May 2015. She believes that learning is not confined to the classroom and that events like the Global Village involve students in the campus community, facilitate learning and promote student leadership.
“As a Filipino person, a Filipino-Canadian now, it’s not every day I get the chance to share my culture to other people, so the Global Village is here to give [students] a physical space, a physical platform to share aspects of their culture that they’re passionate about and that they would like other people to know,” Bautista said.
Chapola agrees that storytelling is an important part of the event, feeling that it addresses one of her major concerns with events like this.
“Personally, my criticism was for this kind of event, is that why do we need to sell our food and dance and [sing] all the time? Why we cannot go beyond that? And then we started to brainstorm,” she said. “And then we realized that we have to bring out the challenges of our lives and that’s why the storytelling took place.”
Though storytelling will be showcased at the event, Chapola and Bautista agree that the Global Village hopes to go one step further by promoting anti-racist education and transnational solidarity. They also hope to build awareness among students about social justice groups such as Just Youth Group, Building Bridges, Canadian Roots Exchange and the World University Service of Canada. All groups are active at the U of S or in Saskatoon, providing resources and opportunities for students.
“We all want to see changes, but hardly we find opportunities to create those changes. I would say that this platform will give us a little opportunity to educate people [about] the meaning of social justice,” Chapola said. “We would like to give a seed in the mind to think more and to get involved with social justice issues.”
Bautista believes that serious topics like social justice can be discussed in an interactive and fun way at events like the Global Village and that such discussions will give international and culturally diverse students the space to have their voices heard.
“The changes that we are doing at the Global Village will bring us one step closer to understanding each other and to break stereotypes.”
For more information, visit the Global Village event page on Facebook.
Graphic: Theresa Quagraine