Students embrace intercultural learning with Faculty-led Classrooms Abroad

Earlier this year, students from three Faculties at Durham College (DC) took advantage of invaluable opportunities to learn abroad, immersing themselves in new cultures while enhancing and applying the skills they have learned in the classroom.

Read on for details about four recent Faculty-led Classrooms Abroad (FLCA).

­­Costa Rica

Students and faculty from the Behavioural Science – Honours Bachelor and Behavioural Science Technician programs travelled to Costa Rica, where they visited schools, special education centres and health care facilities to gain insight into the teaching methods and types of therapy used within a broader global context. Students applied critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills when meeting with educators and people who provide support to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

They visited three communities to explore the differences in resources available in urban and rural areas and the impact that may have on the services provided.

“My favourite part of the trip was witnessing the students seeing new things, experiencing a new culture, and having the opportunity to travel for the first time,” said Sarah Drexler, Professor in the Faculty of Social and Community Services. “It was amazing to witness not only the learning that was taking place, but the excitement students were experiencing.”

One of those students was Tal Torres, who embraced all of the opportunities the experience provided.

“I had so much fun exploring the country with my classmates and also learning so much more than I could even imagine,” she said. “I loved the new foods we got to try, the university lectures we got to sit in on and especially all the new information I learned about Applied Behaviour Analysis and how different it is through a cross-cultural aspect.”


Twelve students from the Faculty of Media, Art and Design visited the rural Guatemalan village of San Felipe, where they mentored young high school students and learned about the local K’iché and Ixil Mayan cultures.

In the fall, DC students and their Mayan counterparts worked together virtually to produce stories about Indigenous rights. Once they were together in Guatemala, they learned about how to market and share those stories in an accessible way.

In April, a virtual reunion event was held in the Rotary Global Classroom. The DC delegation reconnected with their friends from Central America to share the stories they created together.

“Working with the Indigenous communities in Guatemala was by far the most influential experience I have ever had the privilege of having,” said Brianna Duff, a student in the Advertising – Digital Media Management program. “Since we went to Guatemala, I have so much more hope and love in my heart, and my perspective on so many things has changed immensely. Not only has my daily life been changed for the better by this opportunity, but my future plans and goals have also been impacted.”

DC partnered on the initiative with Students Offering Support, a non-profit organization that connects students and learners from diverse cultures and communities.

Both the Costa Rica and Guatemala projects were generously funded by Global Skills Opportunity, the Government of Canada’s Outbound Student Mobility Pilot Program.


DC’s Culinary students traveled to the Italian Culinary Institute in Lamezia, Italy where they gained hands-on experience cooking traditional recipes, using local ingredients from the region’s vast biodiverse landscape.

“It was a great cultural experience because I could learn all about the authentic methods and ingredients on how to make all of these different foods,” said Jonathan Castillo, a Culinary Management student who took advantage of a similar project in Peru last year. “Durham College gives us this platform to broaden our knowledge of cuisine around the world.”

His classmate Brooklyn Johnson was also excited to take part.

“It was the experience of a lifetime,” she said.

Though our DC students learn about food from all over the world during their studies at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, there’s nothing like visiting a country and connecting directly with its people, according to Professor Tanya Heck.

“It’s interesting to be a student in a country that’s not your own,” she said. “Maybe they relate to our international students a little better by putting themselves in an environment that’s a little bit different.”

San Diego, California

Students from two programs travelled to San Diego for the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) Convening Leaders 2024 conference. Attracting thousands of attendees each year, the international conference gives students insight into what it takes to bring such a large and multifaceted convention together.

Event Planning students volunteered in the set-up and execution of the event, and Tourism – Destination Marketing students worked alongside the San Diego Tourism Authority to help promote the city to over 3,000 international delegates.

Our DC students also attended the conference and participated in workshops with other post-secondary students from across North America, while taking advantage of networking opportunities with industry professionals.

“The conference was an amazing opportunity for us. There were so many people to meet and work with there,” said Maggi Heindl, an Event Planning student. “It was a very good complement to my education.”

From international summer programs and semesters in other countries to FLCAs, there are lots of ways for you to see the world while attending DC. For more on those opportunities, click here.

Dental students make friends and memories in Costa Rica

For 11 Durham College (DC) Dental Hygiene students, a Faculty-led Classroom Abroad (FLCA) trip to Costa Rica was a rewarding way to spend Reading Week in October.

FLCA trips are just one of the many experiential learning opportunities that are available to DC students. By immersing themselves in their chosen field, as well as a new country and culture, they can hone the skills they’ve learned in the classroom, gain real-world work experience and make lasting memories.

Students were joined by dental professor Lisa Frisch and program coordinator Jennifer Kellett for the trip, a partnership with Costa Rica Global Learning Programs. They travelled to multiple locations throughout the country, from urban centres to the countryside, an Indigenous community and the Caribbean seaside.

“The students had a really incredible opportunity to go into a very culturally diverse population where we didn’t speak the language,” said Kellett. “It was a whole different experience for them.”

Despite the language barrier, the DC group received a warm welcome everywhere they went.

“The people that we met there were just so incredible, so giving and warm and hospitable,” she said.

Though not able to practice dentistry outside of Canada, the students and faculty provided oral hygiene instruction and education and brought lots of supplies to share with the communities they visited. Their stops included a homeless shelter, a teenage rehab center, a daycare centre, a private practice and a community health clinic.

“It’s a strong community and they value oral health, but just like here in Canada there are many gaps in the system and there are many people who are unable to access care, education and knowledge,” explained Frisch.

Inspired by stories of other FLCAs at DC, the professor had envisioned an inspiring and invaluable learning opportunity for her students, and the trip exceeded her expectations.

“It really gave the students a wide range of experiences,” she said. “We got to experience so much of the culture of Costa Rica. We were eating so many of the foods, we learned so much from our guides about their people.”  

The students were unanimous in their praise of the trip, raving about everything from their lodgings and transportation to the hosts who welcomed them along the way.

“I would describe my experience as exciting and nerve wracking, because you don’t know what you’re getting into. But that’s what makes it fun. That’s what makes it exciting,” said one student, Samantha Barnes.

Her classmate Riley Faith McDowell-Anderson returned from the trip with a new perspective.

“My takeaway from my time in Costa Rica that I’ll bring back to my field of study would be to not judge people so quickly, and to think of the different walks of life that they experience.”

The trip was funded by Global Skills Opportunity (GSO), the Government of Canada’s Outbound Student Mobility Pilot Program. DC students should be on the lookout for their own opportunity to study abroad, according to another student, Diamond Tia Wong-Shaw.

“I would recommend it to any student or any person who doesn’t know much about other cultures, because it was very interesting to experience different cultural values,” she said.

Durham College announces two major international projects

Durham College (DC) has recently announced a collaboration with several Canadian colleges and universities on two separate projects, launched with the help of DC’s International Global Partnerships and Projects team.

Empowerment Through Skills Program

In collaboration with Sault College and Centennial College, DC has been selected as the lead of an Empowerment through Skills Program, funded by Global Affairs Canada and administered through Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan). Based in Tanzania, this project aims to partner DC with Msaginya Folk Development College and Njombe Folk Development College (community-responsive educational institutes) to develop programs that meet local needs.

Initial planning for the project will begin in Tanzania in November 2022, with project activities taking place over the next four years. The Empowerment through Skills Program is designed to strengthen alternative pathways to education, employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship for women and adolescent girls in Tanzania.

Skills to Access the Green Economy Program (SAGE)

Durham College (DC), in collaboration with lead partner Vancouver Island University and Humber College, has been selected for the Skills to Access the Green Economy Program (SAGE) thematic partnership on educational technology. Funded by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by (CICan), SAGE works to create a more qualified labour force in key economic sectors.

For this upcoming project, DC’s Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) will work with designated SAGE partners to assess the needs of and improve online teaching and learning instruction in six countries: Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica and St. Lucia.

“Our team is looking forward to working with our Canadian and Caribbean partners to enhance digital literacy,” says Tanya Wakelin, manager, eLearning, CTL. “This is such a unique project. Our partners in the Caribbean are all at varying stages of executing online learning and education technology. Addressing limited internet connectivity and barriers to technology access will be a challenge, but we are very excited to get started and see the results of what happens when we work together to lead the way.”

The initial needs assessment and work plan development will begin in October 2022. Project activities will take place over the next two years.

By working with organizations such as Empowering through Skills Program and SAGE, DC further reinforces our commitment to collaboration, excellence and accessible learning.

You can learn more about DC’s international initiatives online.

DC’s Working Across Borders project continues to make a global impact during COVID-19

Four years ago, Durham College (DC) started an innovative Working Across Borders (WAB) course for business students, which allows them to engage with various international institutions around the world through virtual collaborative learning. The project provides participants with opportunities to experience multicultural perspectives while developing sustainable real-world business solutions for internationally oriented clients.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, this fall more than 500 students from all over the world joined more than 120 DC students, many of which are international, from the Project Management and International Business Management post-graduate programs. Using the Rotary Global Classroom, DC’s live-stream venue, partners from Germany, Belgium, Slovenia, Netherlands, Russia, Finland, Italy, Ecuador, Bangladesh and Indonesia came together on October 19 for a kickoff session to discuss project details and to meet their teammates and 2020 WAB project partner and client, Seventh Generation.

Seventh Generation is an American-based company that produces eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products, whose mission is to help reduce the negative impact on human health and the environment. The organization’s chief marketing officer, Hanneke Willenborg, participated in the WAB event and provided students with invaluable insight to help guide their efforts.

“Products and businesses need to do more in this world than just work,” says Willenborg. “Companies need to be able to serve more than just their shareholders. We are delighted to see young global minds develop and generate brilliant insights and ideas to help solve complex sustainability and inequity challenges by being a part of Working Across Borders.”

WAB encourages students to work effectively in intercultural teams and explore business opportunities to achieve the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals in their work. The project focuses on online collaboration to prepare students for the real business world and raises awareness about today’s environmental issues to develop open-minded and responsible professionals.

“Working Across Borders encourages those involved to find effective ways to collaborate and overcome cultural barriers with people across the globe,” states Rogier Ten Kate, DC professor and one of the partners in the project. “Students have to solve a complex problem for a real client and build connections and friendships virtually and culturally. With this challenge, they will develop many valuable skills that will be helpful in their future endeavours.”

The WAB initiative continues to expand each year, which illustrates the importance of preparing students to build a sustainable future on a global scale.

DC approved to welcome international students to Canada

Durham College (DC) is thrilled to be one of the first Ontario colleges approved by the Canadian government to accept international students. This means international students not currently in Canada who have an approved study permit and are registered with DC can now travel to start or continue their studies with us. 

DC is currently one of only four public Ontario colleges to receive approval.  Designated learning institutions (DLI) across the country are required to have a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by their province that protects the health and safety of all students, employees and their surrounding community.

International students who meet the requirements may be able to travel to Canada effective immediately and must quarantine upon arrival per the Government of Canada’s regulations. During quarantine students must follow a number of requirements including staying in quarantine accommodation for at least 14 days, remaining isolated (no visitors) and arranging for necessities to be delivered to them.

We look forward to welcoming our international students to DC!

Durham College and partners win Pacific Alliance Education for Employment call for proposal

Durham College (DC), in collaboration with Vancouver Island University and Fanshawe College, wins the Pacific Alliance Education for Employment A.08 call for proposal which will see the Canadian consortium lead the technical assistance for the development and implementation of a national and regional promotional campaign of the entire Pacific Alliance program in Chile, Colombia and Mexico.

Funded by Global Affairs Canada and administered by Colleges and Institutes Canada, the program will see more than 1,500 employers and learners benefit from a dialogue on educational best practices; capacity in leadership and institutional management strengthened; and 105 trainers trained in pedagogical strategies. Focus areas will include: training approaches, competence-based education, and leadership training.

The Pacific Alliance Education for Employment A.08 contract further reinforces DC’s commitment to quality education, not only here in Canada, but all over the world. To learn more about DC’s international initiatives, visit the International Education office website.

Introducing Sage-04: Durham College’s collaboration in Guyana

Durham College (DC), in collaboration with College of the North Atlantic and Mohawk College, was recently awarded one of six Skills to Access the Green Economy (SAGE-04) calls for proposals.

With this contract, DC will support two schools in Guyana: New Amsterdam Technical Institute and Bina Hill Institute, in developing industry-responsive and inclusive skills training programs.

SAGE will see more than 1,000 students and beneficiaries trained across a variety of fields, including: water and coastal management, agriculture, construction and eco-tourism. The ultimate goal of SAGE-04 is to develop an inclusive academic program within the renewable energy sector.

This five-year initiative, funded by Global Affairs Canada and administered by CICan, will also support Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada’s commitment to empower girls and women worldwide.

For more information on SAGE-04 and other International Education office initiatives, visit

Durham College’s Working Across Borders tiles the way for a sustainable future

November 4 marked the official launch of Working Across Borders (WAB), Durham College’s (DC) new course focused on international collaboration and sustainability through student-run consultancy projects. Approximately 550 people from around the world joined DC students and faculty members for the launch, using the global classroom, DC’s internationally live-streamed approach to global learning. More than 128 students across the International Business Management and Project Management post-grad programs, alongside a group of students in the Finance program, enrolled in WAB this fall.

Participants from Canada, Germany, Russia, Italy, Finland, Belgium, and the United States participated in the kickoff event, with Geanne van Arkel of Interface Inc. in attendance. Arkel is the head of sustainable development for Interface, WAB’s client, and the world’s largest producer of carpet tiles, resilient flooring and luxury vinyl tiles. In 2016, Interface launched Climate Take Back, their commitment to running their business in a way that is environmentally sustainable, and environmentally restorative.

During the opening, Pranshu Pinakinbhai Bhatt, a first-year International Business Management student, expressed excitement for WAB, saying “It will be interesting to see how we can work as a team. Each person brings a different culture and working styleso we have to learn to co-operate.” He went on to say “I recently learned that verbal commitments are very important in Finland, so now I adjust my style to fit with Finnish colleagues. Now, if I make a verbal commitment, I make sure to follow through.”

As the launch ended, Arkel challenged the students by saying “If we want to work on sustainable solutions, we need to work together, and that’s where Durham College comes in. We need a new story for our climate’s future. A story that benefits all life. We need you.”

Through the WAB, students will meet Arkel’s challenge as the program teaches students how to achieve success in a global marketplace, while meeting the environmental needs of today’s world. Students work in multi-national teams to develop and pitch sustainable solutions to combat issues that impact the world socially and environmentally. These solutions, based on three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations, include: gender equality, clean water and sanitation, climate action and responsible consumption and production.

“This cross-cultural co-operation is exactly what WAB and the global classroom was designed to do,” says DC professor, Rogier Ten Kate.

Along with TenKate, Dustin Weihs, professor and Joanne Spicer, global learning facilitator, WAB will continue to grow and evolve with the world at large.

Durham College receives Real Life Learning Award for its KEFEP documentary

Durham College (DC) is proud to announce that it took home a Real Life Learning Award at the PIEoneer Awards 2019 in London, England on September 19. The award, which recognizes organizations offering real-life learning programs overseas, was presented to DC for its Kenyan Education for Employment Program (KEFEP) documentary that premiered last year.

“We are so thrilled to receive this prestigious award. It’s the result of countless hours of work from passionate DC students and faculty whose incredible film documents the ongoing work being done to strengthen education in Kenya” said Lisa Shepard, dean, International Education at DC.

Captured, scripted, edited and produced by four DC students and two faculty from the School of Media, Art & Design, the crew spent three weeks in Kenya last year documenting KEFEP, a five-year initiative focused on strengthening and supporting technical and vocational education and training in Kenya, funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.

“Projects like this documentary represent the amazing types of experiential learning opportunities our students have access to during their time at Durham College,” said Dr. Elaine Popp, vice president, DC.  “I’m looking forward to seeing what new and exciting international projects our students and faculty will be involved in next.”

While in Kenya, the crew conducted 52 interviews with KEFEP partners, stakeholders and beneficiaries, in addition to collecting 40 hours of incredible footage. After months of effort and countless time spent in the editing suite, the KEFEP Documentary was born, premiering in front of 120 guests from the college and local community, including the principal secretary from Kenya’s State Department of Vocational and Technical Education and the deputy high commissioner of Kenya to Canada.

The PIEoneer Awards are the only global awards that celebrate innovation and achievement across the whole of the international education industry. With a distinguished judging panel representing geographical and professional diversity, the PIEoneer Awards recognize both individuals and organizations who are pushing professional standards, evolving their engagement or redefining the international student experience.

DC welcomes more than 900 new international students to campus

This week Durham College (DC) welcomed more than 900 new international students from 65 countries to campus for the 2019-2020 academic year. To help prepare students for the year ahead, an International Student Orientation was held on August 28 at the Oshawa campus.

Dean of International Education, Lisa Shepard, kicked off the event by delivering welcome remarks and advice to international students as they embark on their journey in Canada, encouraging them to find a mentor, make friends and write their own story. Later, DC President Don Lovisa and Dr. Elaine Popp, vice-president, Academic, welcomed students on behalf of the entire college.

Throughout the day, students received guidance on the many services and supports available to them and how to prepare for post-secondary education. They also learned about their health insurance plan, banking in Canada, how to find part-time work and also gained valuable information about building a future in Canada.

The day also facilitated the development of new friendships through fun group activities and a photobooth. After the event students were invited to browse a mini student services fair from Durham College Students Inc., FastStart DC, Enactus DC, the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre, as well as informative booths about residence, cell phones, banking and more.

“For many of our new international students, this is their first time being outside of their home country, so it can be very overwhelming and nerve-wracking.” said Janine Knight-Grofe, manager, International Education. “Our International Student Orientation activities are designed to introduce students not only to life in Canada, but also to life as a member of our DC community, so that when they start classes next week they have all the tools they need to succeed.”

More than 2000 international students will be studying at DC for the 2019-2020 academic year. With additional students expected to arrive as the year gets underway, DC prides itself on offering international students the highest-quality Canadian education, a safe and vibrant campus environment and a fun and rewarding student life – with everything from clubs and cultural activities to sports and recreation – to balance studies with activities outside the classroom.

For more information, please visit the college’s International Education office website.