Canadian woods receive visitors from around the world

tip camp 2014 picture
Photo by Kyllie Jansen

The Trent International Program (TIP) Camp took place last weekend at the beautiful Timberlane camp placed in Haliburton.

TIP camp serves as an introductory long weekend for the new international students arriving at Trent University.

Throughout the weekend, students from all around the world meet and are introduced to the Canadian context as well as the structure and characteristics of Trent University.

Students take different workshops and participate in diverse activities oriented to facilitate their adaptation to Trent. They build connections and make friends with people that are undergoing the similar experience of crossing the world to study in a different country.

There are a wide variety of students at TIP camp and even though they are all international students, there are different types. For instance, there are undergraduates, exchange and ESL students. They all have a different spin on how they experience TIP camp.

Three years ago, I had the chance to be one of those students. The exciting and overwhelming nature of the camp is an experience extremely hard to describe. The different perspective I gained by virtue of being part of the Cultural Assistant (CA) team this year informed my own TIP camp experience as a first year.

Throughout the weekend, my anthropology studies kept on knocking the door, and concepts such as cultural appropriation and cultural shock kept on coming in. Every time culture, and more specifically, cultural diversity are discussed, it is indeed important to be clear of what we mean by it.

What does diversity mean? Is it just the number of countries represented? Or is it the different perspectives on life that international students bring to the university community?

My position was named Cultural Assistant, but what does that mean? Do I assist in the cultural adaptation of these students to the Canadian culture?

In fact, my role was a more pragmatic one since we were in charge of workshops and helping with the running of the overall camp program. We were also responsible for the students in our cabins.

Anna Nikolaeva, a fourth year Forensic Science and Politics student, was also a CA at camp. She explained that the experience was “stressful but fun and that although it was for the most part well organized, there is room for improvement.”

Anna expressed that she enjoyed being part of the CA team and that camp is a very important part of the international student experience since it provides students with their first tools to succeed in university and also in Canada.

First years often feel overwhelmed and sometimes shocked, which is completely understandable.

We need to consider that they are not only transitioning to university but also leaving everything they knew behind and going to a place they know absolutely nothing about. TIP camp offers a framework to guide those students and provide support networks that would help them in their university career.

After camp, these students get introduced to the general ISW and incorporated to the larger university community.

ISW is an excellent opportunity to learn how to get involved on campus and to make the most of the university experience.

It is perhaps in some instances not inclusive of certain students that are not so “cheer” inclined, but for the most part ISW and its staff have made an important effort to improve its inclusivity in order to appeal to a larger part of the student body.

Trent University is extremely lucky to have such a diverse body of international students.

For some, it may be somewhat intimating to meet international students due to diverse reasons. Therefore, sometimes it may be a challenge to break the cultural barrier.

Luckily, universities are places that challenge the way we think not only in an academic level but also on a personal one.