Global Engagement Days kick off this week
By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
From October 1 to October 3, Douglas College will be hosting an event called Global Engagement Days.
The three-day event will have activities such as a film screening, a forum, and free food for those who participate. The week is designed to encourage students to celebrate the different cultures represented at the college, and to teach students how to partake in global citizenship. This will mark the third year Douglas College will host the occasion.
Like many other students who have seen the numerous advertisements and posters for the event, you might be wondering, what are these Global Engagement Days? What are their purpose? International Mobility Coordinator Karen Ng answers those questions in an interview with the Other Press.
First, she emphasizes the importance of hosting such an event and how it came into fruition. “Global engagement days came out of something that has been more and more of a priority in terms of the direction of the college […] which is internationalization on campus and making people aware of the different cultures and all the cultural diversity on campus and utilizing that intercultural learning,” she said.
Over 90 countries are represented in the international student population at Douglas and 20 of them will be showcased in the event.
“By holding a college wide event, it gives us a big platform that every sector and every person of the college— whether they be a student, or a faculty member, or a staff member—to engage in that way,” she explained.
Since this is the third year Douglas College has held this event, many may be wondering how it will be different this year and what the expectations are.
“The format has changed because we learn a lot each year and what we found was you have to hold things in centralized locations, so making it a push event rather than a pull event. That global citizenship focus which we dedicated a whole day to our three-day event. We are raising awareness about what global citizenship is and sparking that interest,” she said.
“We have high expectations because I think with the learning we’ve had in the past few years we can expect higher attendance and also higher participation.”
Global Engagement Days emphasize on the importance of travelling to or studying in international countries. I asked Ng why this was such a central focus of the event and she attributed it to the importance of learning about different cultures and countries.
“Until you meet people who actually have a different view of the world than you do, you start to realize [our differences]. How we get our information is through news right? The way news is written and delivered is different, some subtle—but depending on which country you go to it can be very different. I think when people meet their peers who are just like them except they are living in another country and finding similarities or views and belief systems that are completely different. But, at the same time, you could have a common interest, so I think that’s really important—also, if you go on exchange at one of our partner schools, […] courses are taught very different,” she said.
“It’s important to have that life and study experience where everything is different.”
Ng also explained the ways other countries can be surprisingly dissimilar and why it’s important to experience that culture shock. One example she used was a comparison of the way courses are taught in Europe contrasted to Canada and the US. She mentioned an anecdote about the fact that in European schools they have one final exam at the end of the year which their whole grade is based on—whereas in Canada we have mid-terms and quizzes throughout the semester. When the European students come here, they complain about the amount of quizzes and assignments.
The first event is “A Walk Around the World,” and it will be held on both the New West and Coquitlam campus from 11am to 2pm on October 1 and 2 respectively. Like the name implies, it will feature a series of booths all showcasing different countries and cultures complete with food, music, and stories.
At the same time as the Walk Around the World activity, the Coquitlam A/B Atrium will be hosting Global Citizenship booths. At 11:30 am there will also be a screening of Before the Flood, a documentary that follows Leonardo Di Caprio as he interviews scientists and world leaders focusing on climate change and possible solutions. They will be giving out international snacks for viewing.
On October 2, The New West campus will host a Global Engagement Forum in the Aboriginal Gathering Centre from 12:30 pm to 5 pm. According to the Douglas College website, the event will be divided in to two parts. The first part will focus on the faculty sharing international education initiatives from the past year. The second part will have updates and announcements from Douglas International. After such, the forum will be open to participants to discuss new global engagement initiatives.
The last day of the event, on October 3, the New West campus will host Global Citizenship booths in the concourse from 11 am to 2 pm.
With these activities, each student will be given a card, and every booth they visit will award them a sticker to show that they’ve learned about the culture. Students can redeem their full game card for a free meal. Keeping with the global theme, each dish will be from a different culture—dishes like spring rolls, spanakopita, samosas, chicken satay, and on the third day a vegan Thai coconut curry. Don’t despair if you miss the event and can’t get free food, as the food will also be available to purchase. You can also enter your completed game card into a prize draw each day; they will be giving out a $100 Grouse Mountain gift card. The grand prize will be a pair of Canucks tickets.
During the interview, Ng mentioned many times the idea of global citizenship and global competence, so I asked her to define these important terms in her own words. “Global citizenship means to me an awareness of what is going on in the world, the issues the things that we have to fix and solve, and also being able to empathize and communicate with people that are outside our comfort zone,” she said. “I think global competence involves intercultural communication competency—being able to work, […] communicate, teach, and learn in that kind of interaction with people from different cultures.”