Back on campus and building friendships

March 28, 2022

By Ratanjot Khosa, NorQuest College Alumna, Student Assistant at NorQuest International

Back on campus and building friendships

“I’m finally going to experience student life again!” This was a resounding thought as we received news that we could return to the NorQuest campus. Online class delivery due to the pandemic has made it challenging to do much of anything other than study. I never really thought about how much I was missing interaction with other students until I got to do it again. – Ashley Chan, Interdisciplinary Assistant Program

It has been two years since COVID-19 started, and students have lost out on a lot during that time. There were no one-on-one encounters, no welcome parties, and no student events. For international students who are a long way from home, the experience could be particularly difficult. However, that isolation ended with an in-person meet up that was an utter delight.

On March 23, the International Team at NorQuest organized an event called “Coffee with Peer Mentors” and the smiles on students’ faces said it all. We had almost forgotten how much face-to-face meetings cement existing social bonds and strengthen relationships.

The event started with some coffee and refreshments, followed by the introduction of our International Peer-Mentorship Program. New international students, interested in participating in the program, are matched with a peer mentor. Throughout each term, peer mentors offer social support, assistance, and guidance through virtual and in-person one-on-one meetings, and social activities.

Although the meeting was designed to be a social event, it ended up being about so much more. Next was a music circle (with tunes from around the world), where we were able to meet and talk with new people from different cultures. For many, it felt like it was our first time seeing so many people together – so rejuvenating! The group then indulged in fun activities such as “Find Someone Who Bingo” and “Cultural Exchange Conversation Cards” where everyone got to know each other better and learned new words and snippets about different cultures. It was such a culturally rich ambience for one and all.

“This event was a great step for international students,” said Riaz Sachdeva, a student from the Community Support Worker Program. “It was a chance to meet others and know that they can find support from peer-mentors who are happy to help and share their experiences. I would just like to say that student-led events like this should happen again soon!”

All in all, I couldn’t be happier after attending this event. It was a great a success, and more importantly it gave people a sense of back to normal.