For 130 international students who couldn’t go home, York International provided a holiday to remember this year. Between Dec. 24 and Jan. 4, there were dinners on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, excursions to Niagara Falls and Ripley’s Aquarium, tickets to Disney on Ice at the Rogers Centre, a Raptors basketball game and a Toronto Marlies hockey match. Students were shuttled between Keele and Glendon campuses for meet-and-greets, movie marathons and evenings of board games. They could even try ice skating at Harbourfront. How did the holiday fun end? With dim sum in Chinatown.
For student coordinators Candace McKay, Nagomi Mukai and Yifan Shi, this was also a holiday to remember – and one away from home for them as well. They moved into campus residences at Glendon and Keele, hired by York International to make sure events ran smoothly. They not only made sure those who registered got to events, they even decorated the tree and set the table for dinner on Christmas.
New friendships blossomed during the meet-and-greet on Dec. 24 and dinner on Christmas in Winters dining hall, said McKay, including hers with Mukai and Yifan. Students attended about three events each, and some events – the excursions and sports games – were so popular there wasn’t room for all who tried to register online.
“Every day was a highlight,” said McKay, who usually flies home to Trinidad & Tobago for the holidays. The fourth-year cognitive science major has volunteered as an orientation ambassador for York International and when she couldn’t buy a plane ticket in time to get home this year, jumped at the chance to help coordinate the holiday events. “This was something I never got to experience before and it was a lot of fun.”
Over and over, she heard how grateful students were. “They always said thank you for this because otherwise they would have had nothing to do for two weeks.” Many students wrote York International to express their gratitude and to say how much fun it was. Ambae Shree, a Schulich MBA student, who went to Niagara Falls and participated in ice skating at Harbourfront, wrote to say that she truly had “a superb time”. SF, an undergraduate in health studies, enjoyed “spending time with new friends instead of being alone in residence”.
York International organizes the holiday events every year. This year financial contributions were received from the York University English Language Institute, which sponsored the dinner on Christmas; York Residences; the Colleges, which sponsored the trip to Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake; Housing Services; and the City of Toronto.