Maria Lueda Baldia-Torres
“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”. – Stephen Covey
Why Canada? This is a frequent question asked of international students, like me. For most of us, the “Canadian dream” starts with the desire to study and live in a country that gives high importance to freedom, democracy and a better quality of life. Ranking first in the U.S. News and World 2021 Report for “Best Overall Country”, Canada continues to hold its charm and entice international students to choose this beautiful country for higher education.
Why Algoma University? In Algoma University, the commitment to its rich multicultural student population is palpable in its welcoming environment. The atmosphere on campus is positive, forward-thinking, and safe for newcomers and immigrants, regardless of colour, race, gender or religion.
What is the Cultural Safety Learning Program? Joining the university during the last Fall Intake 2021, a co-curricular course that caught my attention was the Cultural Safety Learning Program. The program was facilitated by Eunjung Riauka, who is the Coordinator of Global Engagement and Mobility and Internationalization Lead, Department of Experiential Learning and International Affairs at Algoma University. This is a ten-week asynchronous course that is delivered through online modules and one virtual live session. The course is offered to students, faculty, staff and administrators. The modules allow participants to gain knowledge, understanding, skills, and the desire to advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion.
Another cycle of the program will run from February 7 to April 15 for the 2022 Winter Intake, so I suggest that you check out your email for the invitation to register. Algoma University Students are awarded a Co-Curricular Certificate and employees receive a Certificate of Completion upon completion of the program.
What have I learned? Through the material and facilitator-led insightful discussions I was able to; share myself with the group, identify my own cultural assumptions in my human interactions, recognize biases and stereotyping, and commit myself to honesty, inquiry, and effective communication skills, empathy and personal change. As I navigated through the program, I also learned about my truth, facts about the land I currently live in, and reconciliation. Truth and reconciliation, for me, starts with self-awareness, openness, and embracing the hope and promise of change and action.
As a new member of the Algoma U community, I wish to be a part of this transformation by; welcoming cultural diversity, listening to the truth of the past and present experiences of the people that surround me, respecting the land where I live, and by becoming an advocate of forgiveness, human rights, inclusion, and positive change. Lastly, this program comes highly recommended as it emphasizes equity, restoration, and rebuilding and building bridges, not walls, to all students, residents, and communities for a better, more inclusive Canada that we all dream of.