International opportunities abound at Durham College

Category: Programs & Academics

As a student at Durham College (DC), your opportunities to learn and grow are not limited to either of our campuses. They’re not even limited to our nation’s borders!

From international summer programs and semesters in other countries to Faculty-led Classroom Abroad (FLCA) trips, there are lots of ways for you to see the world while attending DC.

Three groups of students have added new stamps to their passports with international trips this year. Read on to learn more about how they represented DC with pride while honing the skills they’ve learned in class.

Event Planning students excel in Columbus, Ohio

In January, five students in the Event Planning program went to Columbus, Ohio to take part in the execution of the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) signature event, Convening Leaders 2023. An international conference for event planners and suppliers that attracts thousands of attendees each year, it gave students insight to see what it takes to bring such a large and multifaceted convention together.

Accompanied by program coordinator Christine Baily, the students experienced the event both as attendees and participants. The convention took over downtown Columbus, and the visiting DC students were right in the thick of things. Working at the airport, hotels and the convention centre, they helped the big event run smoothly by welcoming and registering attendees, as well as assisting and shadowing the PCMA staff.

It was a terrific learning opportunity for the students, and helped them immeasurably in preparing to organize and host their own events as part of their DC program.

“I learned a lot, and I was able to relate my DC knowledge to the conference,” said student, Sarini Perera.

The efforts of the visitors from DC received rave reviews from the PCMA. Next year’s convention will be held in San Diego, California, and Baily would like to be there with more students.

“It was very positive, and I hope to build on it moving forward with other groups in the future,” said Baily.

Culinary students explore new flavours in Peru

In late February, a group of DC’s Culinary Management students and two of their professors escaped the wintery weather with a trip to beautiful Peru.

As visitors at Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL) in Lima, the DC group spent a week taking classes and having new cultural experiences, experiencing Peruvian cuisine and learning how to create it themselves.

Professors Tanya Heck and Peter Lee guided the students on the trip, and working with chefs in a different culture was a learning opportunity for them as well. Heck said it was particularly eye-opening to work with chefs who speak with a different accent and use different words for familiar ingredients.

“It gave me a new perspective on international students, and a new empathy for them when I’m rattling off, go get this, go get that,” Heck said.

The language barrier in the South American country was a challenge for the visitors to overcome, but luckily, two of the DC students on the trip spoke fluent Spanish. As a result, Paolo Delgado and Diego Perez McClelland became unofficial guides themselves.

“I’ve always been exposed to these foods, but I wanted to see the traditional way of how it’s done, and just get a better understanding of the food and culture,” explained Delgado.

The trip was especially meaningful for Perez McClelland.

“I’m going to remember this trip for the rest of my life. It impacted me greatly,” he said. “Experiencing it with my fellow culinary enthusiasts was amazing. We all were sharing our passion together.”

All of the students made the most of their unique opportunity, including Tamara Sutherland, a mature student preparing for a new career. The experience proved to her that she’s on the right track.

“It was just a reinforcement of how much I love culinary, and how I’ve made the right decision to enroll at DC,” she said.

Media, Art and Design students share stories in Guatemala

Earlier this year, professors Jennifer Bedford and Marni Thornton and 13 students from the Faculty of Media, Art and Design (MAD) traveled to Las Arrugas, Guatemala for an FLCA trip.

The trip marked the continuation of a program that began with a trip in 2019, and which had been relegated to virtual visits throughout the pandemic.

Bedford prepared a curriculum that the DC students then delivered to their Guatemalan counterparts. With a focus on sharing stories, the lessons and hands-on learning activities focused on storytelling in all its forms, from videos and photo essays to writing accessible captions, hashtags, and media releases. Lessons on utilizing social media helped to expand the reach of their stories.

By helping the Guatemalan students build these skills, they will be able to tell and share their stories in their own voice.

"I couldn't be prouder of the youth mentor students and their incredible work in Guatemala,” said Bedford. “Their dedication, hard work, and passion for making a positive impact in the world are truly inspiring. They are a shining example of what can be achieved when we put our minds and hearts into making a difference." 

Students from all across the MAD programs answered the call. Sarah Varty, a second-year student in the Music Business Management program, saw the trip as a unique opportunity to learn about the music culture and industry in Guatemala, as well as how music is used and celebrated by the Mayan Indigenous communities there.

Meagan Poole, a second-year student in the PR and Strategic Communications program, found the trip to be both rewarding and moving.

“I was so proud to be a part of this,” she said.

All of the visitors from DC came away with a profound appreciation and respect for the people they met.

“They were so warm and generous, and so full of gratitude every moment of the day for what we were able to provide for them,” said Thornton.

DC partnered on the initiative with Students Offering Support, a non-profit organization that connects students and learners from diverse cultures and communities. The FLCA@Home and Away storytelling project is generously funded by Global Skills Opportunity (GSO), the Government of Canada’s Outbound Student Mobility Pilot Program. This innovative international learning opportunity is designed to engage with Indigenous and traditional communities around the world, with a focus on how Canadians can play their part to achieve meaningful reconciliation at home and abroad.

On Thursday, April 13, the students had the chance to reunite with their friends from Guatemala in a virtual event at the Rotary Global Classroom. For more on the event and their trip, click here