By: Elizabeth DiEmanuele
When students choose to study abroad, they have an impact and make the world a little brighter.
That’s exactly what Nadia Ahmed, a McMaster University Social Sciences student, chose to do on her exchange this past year. During her time in Scotland, Nadia joined the National Union of Students as a voting delegate, travelling to different cities in Scotland to speak with local communities.
“At first, I didn’t want to, simply because I was nervous. I wasn’t sure if the conversations taking place in Scotland had any space for me,” Nadia shares. “Being a National Union of Students’ delegate made me feel as if I was a part of the community, however temporarily. I quickly learned the value of my insight, which was an empowering experience.”
During Nadia’s time abroad, she was able to witness and engage with policy debates on headline issues like Brexit and the Scottish referendum. “I got to know women of colour doing amazing work, including creating space for us to meet one another to share stories, advice and experiences. I even spoke on a panel of students of colour giving advice to the conference delegates on the obstacles we face when trying to make a change to better the condition of everyone around us.”
Nadia’s experience is just one example of how learning abroad can have a global impact. From participating in Model UN to volunteering with community organizations and attending international conferences across the world, McMaster University students who have gone on exchange return with unforgettable experiences that can contribute to their learning, personal development, and professional growth.
As Jenna Levi, education abroad coordinator at the Student Success Centre shares, “As much as academics are the central theme of study abroad, the benefits of exchange are multi-faceted. It’s an experience that has the potential to impact many parts of a student’s personal and professional life.”
For International Education Week, taking place Monday, November 6 to Friday, November 10, 2017, the McMaster community will learn more stories of McMaster students who have chosen to study abroad. In addition to a week’s worth of events, International Student Services will launch Stories From Abroad, a new McMaster blog that features the experiences of current and recently returned exchange students. This blog is a great opportunity for McMaster students to get a glimpse of what it is like to live and learn in another country.
“The experiences I had while being overseas have not only taught me a great deal about myself but also about the world and my place within it,” says Marisa Bachetti, former exchange student and Stories From Abroad blog coordinator. “I’ve learned to cope with unexpected situations, overcame language barriers and even took my first solo trip – putting myself out there.”
On Thursday, November 2, students will have the opportunity to attend a Stories From Abroad event, where they can meet Nadia, Marisa, and other exchange students to ask questions and listen to firsthand accounts of students’ experiences overseas. For those who cannot attend, there will also be an opportunity to meet exchange students at the Exchange Fair, taking place Tuesday, November 7, 2017. This annual event is a great opportunity for students to further connect with current exchange students from McMaster’s partners abroad.
In addition to international opportunities, International Education Week will celebrate the cultural diversity of McMaster’s campus. This year, food has emerged as a common theme. During International Education Week, the McMaster community will be able to try recipes submitted by international students at the Global Delight station in La Piazza; take part in a cultural potluck with the International and Exchange Club and campus partners; stop by Indigenous Student Services for Soup Day; and, participate in Hamilton: One Bite at a Time, a series that explores Hamilton’s diverse food scene.
“The food we eat has such a strong connection to who we are as people,” says Jenna Levi. “I’m not surprised that this where we naturally gravitated to or what students are most excited to both share and learn more about.”