Darley Dau opening her violin case.

“As an international student, my goal was to study in a place that wasn’t exactly like my home country,” said Darley Dau, a first-year Honours Arts and Business student from Vietnam. Conrad Grebel University College was just the place Darley’s passion for learning was looking for — a residence where she could be open-minded and learn about a variety of people’s interests, skills, religions, cultures, and more.  

“When you go to another country, you learn about a new culture while embracing your own culture as well,” said Darley. As one of Grebel’s International Student Representatives in the Student Council’s Larger Leadership Team, Darley works to support and encourage international students to do both. “There are a lot of events and traditions that make it easier for international students to interact with the community, such as fill-the-table,” she said. Fill-the-table is a Grebel tradition that welcomes anyone at your table until it is full. “I found it to be highly informative to live at Grebel with Canadian students. Everyone was open to conversation, happy to teach me about Canadian culture, and learn about Vietnamese culture in exchange.”  

Darley is also involved in planning cultural events at the College, and recently helped organize a Chinese Culture Hour, which featured Chinese art and calligraphy, live traditional music, and small workshops. “I would love to invite other clubs to host events at Grebel so we can introduce a variety of cultures and encourage a wider diversity of international students to come here.” 

Darley initially found Grebel because she had a developing passion for playing the violin and learning about music. Once she heard about Grebel’s many practice rooms, she knew it was the place for her. “In my country, we didn’t have many opportunities to play music in school,” she shared. “At Grebel, practicing music is very accessible and convenient; the practice rooms are just one floor down from my bedroom,” she added. 

Darley connected with many musical Grebelites by getting involved in the orchestra for the upcoming student musical. “I love having the chance to play with such talented people — it is so inspiring. I love learning new knowledge and skills from the music community here,” she expressed. “I feel like I am getting better at my instrument by the day!” 

Reflecting on her past two terms living at Grebel, Darley hopes that more international students recognize the value Grebel has to offer. “I do really like the environment in Grebel, there is so much support from peers, Dons, staff, and Student Services. You can express yourself without fear of judgment as long as you respect others, because they surely will respect you,” Darley said. “I would love for more international students to know about Grebel and live here. It is a place where if you give your love out to people, you will soon be embraced by the love people will give back to you.”

By Farah Jurdi