By AJ Dixon
Whether it was delicious Caribbean dishes in the Cafeteria, exciting and educational guessing-game contests, or beautiful displays of traditional East Asian dress, there was something for everyone at the inaugural Renison Global Expo, part of the University of Waterloo’s International Education Week (IEW).
IEW 2015, a global-initiative focused on international and intercultural exchange in the world of post-secondary education, serves to highlight the University of Waterloo’s mission of becoming “one of the most internationalized universities in Canada.” Aligning perfectly with this goal is Renison University College’s long-standing tradition of globally-focused education, a tradition that inspired the Renison community to host its first-ever Global Expo.
Jennifer Burton, housing and activities specialist and Renison Global Expo lead, describes the event as “a chance for people to explore, via interactive events, displays, and activities in our new and inviting Atrium, the great cultural diversity and global-connectedness of the Renison and UWaterloo communities.” For Burton, the Expo not only helped her to attain greater insight into the internationally-focused programs and exchange opportunities offered by Renison, but she also got to see first-hand the passion and excitement of the Renison student community. “Seeing the fun our international and domestic student-volunteers had engaging with our Global Expo visitors was not only exciting and rewarding for me as Global Expo lead, but it also helped me realize the value that these types of events have by increasing intercultural awareness and understanding.”
Numerous Renison departments and organizations, including the Renison International Office, East Asian Studies, Studies in Islam, and the Renison English Language Institute, participated in the Global Expo by organizing activities and special events. Some of highlights of the Expo included a display of traditional-dress from Japan, China, and Korea, internationally-themed cafeteria dishes prepared by Chartwells, the screening of a Korean monster movie, and hands-on activities like origami and the chance to try writing one’s name in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
When asked what he enjoyed most about the Global Expo, Muntathir Alkhamis, a student volunteer from the English for Academic Success (EFAS) program, said, “The funniest part was the challenge to write (non-Arabic) names in my language. Almost every name I needed to practise before I wrote (it) down.” Jasmine Chen, another student volunteer from the EFAS program, added, “When you are able to help others you will feel very excited…not only did I learn about things from different cultures, but also I met many new friends who all come from different countries.”
When discussing the possibilities for next year’s Global Expo, Burton said she wants to build off of the excitement that was generated by this year’s event by increasing awareness and engagement with the wider student population at the University of Waterloo. “We really created a lot of buzz here amongst Renison student and staff by putting-on an exciting and educational Expo; next year we hope to take it to the next-level by further increasing UWaterloo student participation as part of International Education Week.” Given the success of this year’s event, it will be exciting to see what Burton and the Renison community have in store for next year’s Global Expo.