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Image via DSU
Image via DSU

DSU FOCUS Club provides inclusive environment for international students

By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter

It’s an uncontested notion that international students have to deal with much more stress than domestic students. With tuition fees raised, a new city to adjust to, and language barriers to deal with, it can be too much to handle all at once. At the DSU FOCUS (Friends of Overseas College & University Students) Club, students can place those worries aside and find a community of international students who understand and are willing to support them. Eunice Tanuwijaya, President of FOCUS, said that friendships forged in the group are priceless.

“The club believes in unconditional love and building communities by giving students the opportunity to make friendships with others of different cultural and religious backgrounds,” Tanuwijaya explained.

The DSU FOCUS Club started at Douglas College around six years ago, provided by the sponsorship of International Student Ministries Canada (ISMC). The ISMC hopes to help these international students in both practical and spiritual ways.

“International students are a vulnerable group, being far away from home and separated from their families in a foreign land,” adds Edward Hum, ISMC Staff Member.

“The practical aspect involved many things such as ESL, social events, help with moving, etc. While there are many Christian groups on college campuses promoting the Christian faith, ISMC’s approach is different because we focus on friendship before faith. We started focusing less on the Bible study and more on application of the teachings of the Bible and on friendship even more.”

Tanuwijaya joined the group back in 2014 and continues to stay for the inclusiveness it provides to all students.

“FOCUS has transformed into a place where everyone can hang out and chill,” Tanuwijaya said.

“Even though the club is founded by Christians, this doesn’t mean that members must have the same religious background. Everyone is free to believe what they believe.”

In addition to its relaxed and supportive atmosphere, FOCUS also provides an opportunity to connect with the community near and far. Recently, FOCUS collaborated with the DSU Crew, DSU Video Games Culture Club, and DSU Indonesian Club to support the Nepal relief fundraiser.

“I linked up with FOCUS Club through the DSU’s efforts to raise funds for the Nepal earthquake fund in July of 2015,” shared Jacqueline Martin, Vice President.

“From that day forward, I continued to reconnect with the club, eventually becoming a permanent member. I stay simply because the people that resonate within the group are both compassionate and warm. Their qualities enhance my own personal growth and academic experience,” said Martin.

“Over time, the club members have realized that FOCUS is more than a college club,” Hum added. “It is a loving community that extends beyond college, Canada, and even this current life.”

“God has confirmed this by connecting us this past summer with Pastor Rhonda and Life Design House to sponsor community supper every Tuesday and many other activities. Operation Mobilization (OM) provides students and graduates with short-term or long-term opportunities to help the poor around the world, and Vancouver Outreach, a new startup charity founded by Jacqueline, feeds and befriends the homeless people locally.”

With students coming and going back to their home countries, the number of members fluctuates each semester, and FOCUS is looking for volunteers to help their club thrive.