York University celebrates international education with month of activities

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While most post-secondary institutions across Canada mark International Education Week (IEW) during the third week of November, York University celebrated over the entire month of November.

Vinitha Gengatharan
Vinitha Gengatharan

“International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and cultural and academic exchange worldwide,” said Vinitha Gengatharan, assistant vice-president, global engagement and partnerships, York International.

“More than ever, we need to learn from, share with and understand and dialogue across cultures and differences and address global challenges,” she said. “The month-long events and activities at York serve to remind our community of the importance of, and to share with, the York community, particularly our students, the many opportunities to broaden their perspectives and how the University continues to support a key pillar of the University Academic Plan: advancing global engagement.” 

The celebrations began with York International’s annual Global Learning Fair on Nov. 2. York International exchange students, global partners Brunel University London, U.K., and the Obama Institute at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität in Mainz, Germany, as well representatives from the Faculties of Science and Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), joined forces to spread the word about the various study and work abroad opportunities available to students. The in-person fair was followed by two virtual sessions featuring representatives from York’s global partners in more than 20 countries worldwide. The Global Learning team is now accepting applications for the 2023-24 academic year abroad.

The Glendon and Keele campuses were buzzing on Nov. 5 (Glendon) and Nov. 19 (Keele) with prospective students and their parents who were interested in learning more about York University and all it has to offer. York International took part, sharing information about study and work abroad opportunities, virtual projects such as the SDGs in Action and the York International funding available to support global learning and global engagement programs. Since York International’s work is supported by the student community, the team also discussed the variety of volunteer and work-study roles available to York students to assist in supporting new and current international students who study here.

York International’s student and scholar services team supports international student retention and success by offering non-academic programs and services on campus. The team’s November calendar offered a variety of workshops to support students with their study permit questions and pathways to permanent residency. The team also hosted a Q-and-A with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada representatives and provided virtual and in-person support to Iranian students experiencing ongoing hardship. The team launched its International Student Experience newsletter to pan-University partners to better streamline communication about programs, supports and services for the University’s international students, and to further educate partners on the international student experience.

International Education Week coincided with the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE) annual conference in Toronto this year. Representatives from the Faculties of Science, LA&PS and York International attended the conference to learn about best practices and share knowledge and expertise. The delegation also accepted, on behalf of York University, the CBIE Panorama Award for Globally Networked Learning, demonstrating its outstanding achievement in championing innovative and inclusive international education programming that engages Faculties, students and global partners.  

The York International team accepting the Canadian Bureau of International Education award
The York International team accepting the Canadian Bureau of International Education award

York University hosted the second Sustainable and Inclusive Internationalization Virtual Conference on Nov. 17. This year’s discussions were guided by three themes: Connecting the Local and Global Classrooms; Sustainable and Inclusive Global Learning; and Local and Global Community Engagement, with Gender, Education for Sustainable Development and Inclusivity. There were more than 450 speakers and participants from 59 countries.

Throughout the month, York International welcomed global partners to campus to discuss future collaborations and exchanges. From Nov. 6 to 12, colleagues from the Universidad del Magdalena, Colombia met with professors and students. (The Universidad del Magdalena is a CALAREO partner, and through this consortium, there is funding available for students participating in Faculty-led programs and research internships at the institution.)

On Nov. 21 and 22, York’s Ontario Universities International (OUI) representative, Agnes Poleszczuk, and York International hosted the coordinator of the Rhône-Alpes, France (ORA) program based in Lyon, France. They engaged with faculty, staff and students in discussions about the funding that is available for exchanges, summer research and language programs in France. On Nov. 21, a gift agreement supporting Philippine Studies at York University was signed led by the Philippine Studies Group at York Centre for Asian Research and with the support three York Faculties.

To find ways to continue exploring the complex issues that have been the subject matter of the diverse courses offered by the Las Nubes EcoCampus in Costa Rica, Ana Maria Martinez, the EcoCampus associate director, with colleagues from the Faculties of Environmental and Urban Change and Health, created the Grounded Project.  On Nov. 23, the Grounded Project hosted the premiere of their third documentary, We Walk the Earth. The documentary explores Indigenous persistence in their homelands after more than 500 years of colonialism. It recounts struggles in Costa Rica for Indigenous rights to land, to self-governance and autonomy. Following the screening, the audience enjoyed a panel discussion featuring Gilbert González Maroto, Indigenous Elder and executive director of the Centre for Indigenous Development (CEDIN, a Costa Rican NGO), Assistant Professor José Miguel Gonzalez Pérez (LA&PS), Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) Assistant Professor Martha Stiegman, Felipe Montoya, EUC professor and Chair of Neotropical Conservation and the director of the Las Nubes Project.

Visit the York International website to learn more about international education opportunities.