It's a small world after all

Mount Royal University's biggest International Education Week ever is a sign of the program's growth and increased profile on campus.

Universities across Canada are joining fellow institutions from more than 100 countries around the globe this week to celebrate and build awareness of the exciting opportunities international education offers students.

Watch for International Week activities running on Main Street through Nov. 19 .



Meaghan Smulders will never forget her visit to
China as part of an international exchange.

Mount Royal's thriving International Education program is able to present an expanded celebration this year due to increased participation and support from the greater Mount Royal community. Of course, it's only appropriate since this is Mount Royal's biggest year of celebrations ever, thanks to our ongoing centennial extravaganza.

International Projects Coordinator Claudia Lara, who has been involved with International Education Week for the past four years, says that International Education Week has been steadily growing.

In particular, the Study Abroad Fair has garnered the most interest from students over the years, so it is being given a higher profile this year.

The Fair: International Education Week's biggest draw

"At this year's Study Abroad Fair, we will have more than 25 booths which will display our more than 70 partners around the world," says Lara.

For students like fourth- year Bachelor of Business Administration student Maeghan Smulders, the Study Abroad Fair can open a world of possibilities.

"I had no idea we did international exchanges at Mount Royal until I saw the International Education booths ," says Smulders.

"I had the opportunity to talk with a girl from Mexico studying here in Calgary. She was so excited to talk about her experience so far and share her stories with me. I was instantly hooked.

"I wanted to learn more about the program and what it could do for me. I wanted to figure out how I could have an experience just as awesome as hers - but unique to me, my education, and where I wanted to go."

Another highlight of this year's International Education Week is the all-new 100 Views of the World photo competition.

More than 100 shots were submitted by members of the Mount Royal community who have travelled abroad. Those photos are currently on display on Main Street, where people can take part by voting for their favourites.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the three photographs with the most votes.

International students benefit from inter-faculty collaboration

A new collaborative element has added to the scope and reach of this year's International Education Week.

That's because the International Education program has sought the input and collaboration of many other departments in an effort to connect exchange students to all areas of campus.

That has led to greater inter-faculty involvement and as a result some fresh elements, which add depth to the celebrations.

"For example, Justice Studies is having a Social Justice Film Festival, and we have sponsorship from Good Earth to provide fair-trade coffee along Main Street all week," adds Lara.

Integrating alumni a key addition

"At first, it was mainly staff with International Education who ran this week," says Lara. "Throughout the years, we have been getting more International Education staff involved, but the most important people we have been able to incorporate are the alumni."

"Every year, our number of volunteers has been growing because students who have participated in International Education are eager to share their experiences with other students," Lara says.

"Volunteers want to talk about the different opportunities we have, such as exchange, teacher training, non-credit foreign languages, English as a Second Language and the summer English program."

Lara is confident International Education Week it will continue to impact the lives of students like Maeghan Smulders more and more each year.

After learning about exciting new possibilities during an International Education Week in Jan. 2008 herself, Smulders has a brand new outlook on life.

"I learned that my education is whatever I make it. And Mount Royal provides so many wicked opportunities for students to push the boundaries and framework of education."

Smulders studied abroad in China in the summer of 2009 based on her experiences at International Education Week a year earlier.

A summer she'll never forget

"I knew the Chinese economy was the fastest growing in the world, and that their country would have a huge influence on business and people of my generation, but I only knew this from reading it in a text book, or hear it from a professor who hadn't even been to China," Smulders says.

"So I took advantage of the opportunity and I applied to study abroad. I wanted to know what all the buzz was about in China and I felt the best way for me to apply what I am learning in the classroom was to bring it to reality."

Smulder reflects, "What is a more radical opportunity to travel for school and experience something that will change the way I view the world around me, increase my contribution in the class room, and enrich my view in business and the people around me?"

- Fred Cheney, Nov. 18, 2010