Not Culture-Shock but Culture-Welcoming

By: Urbashi Das

The month of October is always very festive according to the Hindu calendar. If you’re Indian, it doesn’t matter which part of India you’re from, you’ll have some festival to celebrate during this month. However, the most notable one that Indians all over the world celebrate is, of course Diwali.

On the other hand, in the university world, October also signals the beginning of the midterm season. Thus, welcome to my life during this month. It consists of a lot of sighing, crying, craving to be in India, where every nook and corner of cities will be lit up, families and relatives will be dressing up in their finest clothes and the food! The most delicious food will be cooked by your loved ones for your loved ones accompanied by an overwhelming amount of sweets.

But guess what? Most of my crying and sighing is because I’m stressing and panicking about my midterms and not because I’m missing Diwali. You know why? Because Canada’s amazing and our little town of Waterloo is even better. On the 23rd of October, Indian students from both University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University came together to celebrate Diwali by bursting fireworks and serving “mithai” (sweets in Hindi) to make sure that no international student was missing home! Not only that, Laurier’s own Laurier BollyHawks Association which is a fun club that celebrates Bollywood (the Hindi Film Industry) is holding an event called, “Jalwa” on the 13th of November. The event is going to be a huge party celebrating Navratri and Diwali and it’s been kept on a date after all the midterms are over so that everyone can just let go of all their stress and dance it out! You have no idea, how badly I’m waiting for it!

There has been a lot said about Laurier and Canada, being an inclusive community. Yet, to actually see it with your own eyes is a different experience altogether. Last year, when I attended the Jalwa event, our beautiful campus looked like one of the small cities in India, with students dressed up in their finest ethnic clothes and walking around campus like it’s their home because it really is their home. And it wasn’t only Indian students, they had brought their friends of different cultures along, dressed them up in our Indian clothes as well! Everyone was celebrating because as long as you’re spreading happiness, it doesn’t matter why you’re doing it, right?

All I’m trying to say is that for an international student, having a fear of experiencing culture shock in a new country is absolutely normal. Here at Laurier though, we try our best to make this your home away from home by welcoming and celebrating your culture instead of shocking you with ours J

Here’s a picture of my friends and I, all dressed up for “Jalwa” in the middle of the Bricker Residence!urbashi

First Fall term reading week at Wilfrid Laurier University

Canadian Reading Week

By Cam Luo

This past week after the Canadian Thanksgiving, all Laurier students enjoyed a week off from our busy university schedule – the first ever Fall Reading Week at Laurier! Being in my final year at Laurier, I was lucky enough to try out this Fall term break as well.

In Canada, Reading Week is a break for university students in the middle of the semester. It allows us to have some time off before the tests, midterms and assignments come after the break. Therefore, during the break, students can set up their own schedules to work on the upcoming tests or assignments on their own pace. Other than studying, students may also use the break to relax and re-energize themselves, such as reunite with out-of-town friends or families, have a mini vacation, or even go on a road trip!

Personally, in addition to the reunion with my friends, I was excited to help out with the Make-up Orientation Sessions hosted by Laurier International too. The Make-up Orientation was for the first-year international students who were unable to attend the International Orientation Week in September. Throughout the orientation sessions, all first-year international students got to know about the on-campus resources and facilities that will better help them orient themselves and succeed in their Laurier campus life. At the end of the week, we even went on a wonderful trip to visit Canada’s famous iconic natural wonder – Niagara Falls!!

With all the energy that I have gained back from my break, I look forward to going back to school and starting a new page in my semester!

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Wilfrid Laurier fulfilling its purpose of Inspiring Lives? I couldn’t agree more. By: Karina Flores

Inspired. That is what I have been by this school.

I have been inspired by the campus, by the school spirit, but most importantly by the people on campus, whether that be the students, teachers, alumni, or even those working for the school have inspired me in some way.

But first you have to get involved.

Laurier has so much to offer! But again like I said, you have to take advantage of it.

You see some really exciting things happen at Laurier. There are so many clubs, events, student initiatives that it can be overwhelming but at the same time fascinating!

Now, you can’t be part of every club on campus, you can try, but it would be really really I mean really hard! (Seriously I have tried)

So instead join a few clubs like me and be part of the magic that happens at Laurier!

This year I joined The Social Innovation Project, which a newly formed club on campus and it’s already making an impact at our school. Even, one of our own members has now launched his social innovative and entrepreneurial idea and is on the way to starting his own club on campus! Amazing!

You see we all want to provide a better world. That is what Laurier students do.

All the clubs on campus focus on fundraising and helping the community and a good cause. Our clubs have helped fundraised so many funds for charities year after year and we don’t plan on stopping! This year, I also joined the sorority, Alpha Phi, whose members focus their efforts on academics and philanthropic efforts. Can you believe that at our most recent event, “Move your Feet,” we raised over $3000?!

This inspires me to make my own impact and help the world be a better place. Wouldn’t you want to be part of it? I am telling you the opportunities Canada and Laurier give you are endless!

On a final note, I would like to dedicate this blog post to Tarique Plummer, an international student that came from Jamaica to Laurier this year. Tarique, is a first year but he has already done so much in his time here at Laurier that I mistake him for a third year student.

Tarique is taking advantage of these opportunities I have briefly talked about. He is involved in many positions on campus, meeting people, and most importantly he is inspiring lives. He is what a Laurier student looks like.  But for those reading this I want to remind you that anyone and everyone can do the same, you just have to go for it!


Remember this: Laurier is a land of opportunities, it’s not just a campus where you go to class, it is a place that will inspire you to go beyond academics and make a difference in the world!

Laurier truly inspires lives.

We’re home!

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It’s September, and there are once again a lot of students here in Waterloo. Some of them are first years that are moving out of their parents’ house for the first time. Others are older students that are moving to a new place. And then there are people like me, who have been living in the same space for multiple years. But when I think about it, my home is not just where I sleep.

I consider my friends’ apartment, where we have played a lot of fun and frustrating games together, as my home.

What about the library, where I went to for really long group study sessions that sometimes extended into the early morning? That feels like home to me.

I would also call the nearby coffee shop, where I’ve spent hours upon hours with friends talking about our lives and every kind of random topic, my home.

The office space at the back of the International Recruitment and Admission office where I hang out with some of the best people that I have ever met in my life? Yeah, that’s home.

This is my fourth and final year of undergraduate study, so I may be a little sentimental. But these past few years have given me some of the greatest, worst, and most memorable moments. After I graduate, it doesn’t matter if I move to another city, another province, or even another country. I will always, always remember the people that made me believe three words – Laurier is home.

“Houses come and go, but a home is where you make your life… A home is where people love you” – Michael “Burnie” Burns

My South African Experience

pic 3For the past three weeks, I got the opportunity, along with 31 other students, of travelling to South Africa as part of the International Business concentration. During the first week, my class and I visited Johannesburg where we conducted a variety of company visits including Deloitte, McCain’s, ABSA Bank, the Canadian Embassy, IBM, a gold mine and Ford to name a few. During that week, we also got the pleasure of visiting the Pilansburg safari and lion park where we were able to interact with the animals as well as watch them in their natural environment. The highlight from that day was definitely petting a lion cub and feeding a giraffe! We were even able to get up close with a zebra, hyena, elephant, lion, cheetah, and rhinoceros.

In the second week, we ventured to Cape Town where we had a bunch of other company visits lined up including Mass Mart, SAB Miller, Two a Day, and Backsberg Winery. We also had the opportunity to climb Table Mountain and go shark diving! Additionally, we got to climb up to Cape Point where the different sceneries were absolutely breathtaking and where we were also allowed to buy souvenirs and explore around the area. Later in the day, we visited the penguin sanctuary where we were able to see them in their natural environment.  Lastly, we were able to visit a school where we donated materials for the children and had the opportunity of interacting with them. It was truly a once in a lifetime chance!

All in all, the trip really opened my eyes in terms of the different cultures and ways of doing business that exist. It was a well-balanced adventure that incorporated doing business in South Africa and exploring the country as well. Our entire class was able to document the trip by making many memories that will last a lifetime!

- Yashna

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Laurier Professors Play their Part to Help Haiti“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Following this line of thinking, professors from Wilfrid Laurier University will help train the next generations of academics and scientists from Haiti.

Steve Sider is an associate professor form Laurier’s Faculty of Education and an adjunct professor at the Institut des sciences, des technologies et des études avancées d’Haïti (ISTEAH). Sider is currently mentoring a PHD student in Haiti named Thelus Wilson.

Wilson’s story is a remarkable one. Alongside maintaining his education, he also runs a school for underprivileged students in Haiti. To establish this school, he left his stable job and mortgaged his house. Now, he runs the school, and at the same time, is furthering his own education. This remarkable story shows us the impeccable resilience and fortitude of the Haitian public to develop their country through education.

Sider claims that this model of educating Haitians like Wilson will undoubtedly contribute to the educational growth of others in Haiti. Sider is among the many Canadian professors and academics who teach at ISTEAH. Some travel to Haiti and conduct classes in person, while others conduct classes using video- conferencing.

Since fall of 2013, sixty- one students have enrolled into ISTEAH classes for masters and/ or doctorate programs. Sider has done Laurier proud and has embodied our motto- Inspiring Lives. However, the more beautiful part of this model of education is that the development of Haiti will be done by Haitians alone. When the day comes that Haiti stands on its feet again, the people can proudly claim responsibility for the rise of their country.

March Break Open House

699_Open_House_Hawk_WelcomeEvery winter semester in March, Laurier puts on a March Break Open House where prospective students come in to learn more about the campus and programs. During this time, all the clubs and student services on campus set up booths to promote their association or the value that they add to the campus. I remember coming to Laurier on this specific day four years ago, and noticing the spirit and community feel instantly. It was so incredibly welcoming with all of the different students cheering and promoting the school that I knew instantly that I definitely was going to apply here.

When I walked up to the different booths, the students were always ready to engage me in conversation and would passionately explain their club to me. I was able to learn a lot not only about the different clubs (150+) that I could potentially be a part of but the different services that would be offered to me if I became a student at Laurier. I was able to get different contacts from students and faculty and email them when I got home about questions that came up and found that they were always willing to answer it and would pass it off to someone who knew the answer to the question if they didn’t.

March Break Open House was a tremendous success for me personally and I would highly recommend attending it if you have the opportunity to do so!

Laurier Brantford: Different Campus, same Spirit

laurier Brantford, tripIn January, the Laurier ambassadors ventured to Laurier Brantford to have a look at the campus. Just by visiting for the day, we were all able to see how similar it was to our Waterloo campus in terms of the atmosphere and friendliness. We first toured the area and saw the different locations and were able to relate them to the different locations in Waterloo. Although the Brantford campus is more spread out in terms of the buildings, the amount of students that go there is much smaller and it gives it quite a cozy feel. The residences that we visited were extremely nice and well-kept with different layouts compared to the Waterloo campus. The biggest difference that we noted was the two story apartment style residence compared to the single story apartment style residences at the Waterloo campus along with the amount of people in each apartment.

We were all surprised to hear that when it was established, they started off with 39 students and have grown to over 3,000 students today. This increase in the number of students has now been anticipated for and the renovation of the YMCA Athletic Facility is currently being done. The excitement about this new facility can be seen every time it is brought up with any of the Brantford students and with the community that will share these facilities. Similar to the 24 lounge on the Waterloo campus, the Brantford campus has a Student Centre with 24/7 access to students so that they have a place to study or hang out with friends. Another interesting fact about the Brantford campus is that there is no “actual” campus. Historical landmarks like the theater and bank have been converted into school buildings and classrooms. The main campus Centre is specifically designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible by using less material in the construction of the building as would be normally required and having systems that recycle rain water for use in the building.

Although it is a different campus located in a different city, Laurier Brantford does have many of the same activities as the Waterloo campus.  An example of this is their version of Orientation Week for incoming first year students where they have a cheer off at the heart of Brantford. However, they also have many unique aspects to their student community including the mandatory four classes known as the Brantford Foundations that all students attending that specific campus must take.

To sum it up, although the Brantford campus is in a different city altogether, the Laurier spirit is present. It still feels like home.

Volunteering Abroad

volunteering abroadThe Winter holidays are over now, and already, some students in Laurier are busy planning their next trip.  Over the summer of 2014, a select group of Laurier’s students from both Waterloo and Brantford campuses will embark on a two month trip to Ghana. The aim of the trip will be to work with major NGO’s (non- governmental organizations) to engage in humanitarian work to improve the lives of citizens of Ghana. Students will engage in projects ranging from improving human rights to child education and development, to name a few. Students will work for a range of prestigious NGO’s that are active in Ghana such as IN Network- Ghana and Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice

Before the trip, the participants will receive training and enroll in a mandatory study course. Upon returning to Canada, students will also deal in publicity and speak and advertise their experiences to other Laurier students. This will undoubtedly inspire other students to do their part to make the world a better place. This is the third time that Laurier’s students will be embarking on humanitarian trips to other countries to do their part to make the world a better place.

Laurier’s motto is ‘Inspiring Lives.’ At Laurier, we take this motto seriously. Motivated and committed students take our motto and put it into action, elevating our name worldwide and making the university proud!

Kick-starting the New Semester with Laurier’s Exchange Students

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The end of the fall semester of 2013 was quite a bittersweet one. On the one hand, it was sweet because we were all pretty excited and grateful to have made it to the end of another calendar year. And on the other hand, it was bitter because in the midst of our holiday celebrations, we were reminded of the fact that we would soon have to say our goodbyes to the exchange students here on a temporary basis. These set of exchange students were unique because, unlike many others, they managed to save my semester from several pits of mediocrity and transform it into unimagined heights of merriment. They were able to transcend the barriers caused by the cultural differences they were plagued with; and together, they turned what would normally be a disadvantage into an unexpected advantage.

Naturally, with the onset of a new semester comes a new group of students from around the world. Also naturally, the university always does its best to ensure that every semester, the exchange students have a smooth transition into life in Canada, however temporary it may be. To kick-start the semester, Laurier International organized an orientation program for the newcomers. In the three days that the orientation lasted, the newcomers were given an opportunity to meet other students and survey both the city and the campus. More recently, the department, with the assistance of its peer mentors, organized an “international potluck,” and like most potlucks, there was plenty of food. Unlike most potlucks, however, the food available was representative of dishes from approximately twelve countries. In addition to the vast variety of food, the potluck served as the perfect medium to develop exceptional group dynamics, and perhaps build on friendships that had been sparked during orientation.

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