Global Voices celebrates a harmonious new partnership

Mount Royal University Languages Institute and Conservatory stage an international success

International students are singing Mount Royal University's praises

MRU's Brad Mahon, PhD (left) welcomed four students from Yunnan Normal University (Kunming, China) and four students with an accompanying instructor from Chongqing University (Chongqing, China).

Thanks to the inaugural Global Voices concert on July 21, many international students are singing Mount Royal University's praises.

Co-hosted by Mount Royal's Languages Institute,The Conservatory and the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension (FoCEE), the concert showcased the successful start of the new Summer English and Music program initiative.

For two weeks, MRU welcomed four students from Yunnan Normal University (Kunming, China) and four students with an accompanying instructor from Chongqing University (Chongqing, China). These nine visitors, along with the support of some Conservatory ensembles and performers, were featured in an afternoon concert at the TransAlta Pavilion in the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts to cap off their summer learning.

"I am pleased to have had the opportunity to bring my students to study at MRU," says Jane Qin, instructor of Music and Voice from Chongqing University. "We had the benefit of learning with people from different cultural backgrounds and participating in unique classes."

During their stay, the students were offered choir, private vocal, piano and English language refinement lessons with students from other countries. The choice of repertoire for the concert reflected this focus on the voice, with selections ranging from classical fare like Pergolesi's Stabat Mater and Arneson's Et Misere Cordia, to a contemporary arrangement of the Canadian folksong She's Like the Swallow.

Piano player

A member of the Chinese delegation performed at the University.

The experience wasn't limited to the classroom. The program included some well-received off-campus activities and field trips, including a tour to Heritage Park and Banff National Park. Qin notes, "Through these excursions, we learned about the history of Canada and experienced the amazing natural landscape. This has been an opportunity to broaden our horizons and learn so much. We appreciate all of the support from the teachers, students and volunteers."

The program delivery was the direct result of the marketing mission to China in March this year by faculty members Brad Mahon, PhD and Conservatory director, Karen Dodge, manager, Languages Institute, and Tiona Corcoran, international marketing and recruitment specialist.

The team planned a strategic mission with the support of Canadian Trade Commissioners, Alberta Trade Offices, and the Canada China Business Council. MRU FoCEE signed a memorandum of understanding with Chongqing University, the first step in establishing long-term strategic relationship.

"The current focus on China is a part of our Faculty's strategic planning for the marketing of and recruitment for its programs," says Dodge. "Our plans align with MRU's overarching internationalization goals and with the work being done in Admissions and Recruitment and International Education. Our initiatives are much enhanced through collaboration across the institution, and by taking an integrated approach in a region or country that offers as many opportunities as China."

Thanks to this successful initial program, there are several trips scheduled to China for faculty and staff of the Languages Institute and Conservatory alike, setting the stage for a visit from MRU president David Docherty to meet with partner institutions while attending the Universities of Canada Conference in October.

The strategic focus of international activities in China has resulted in increased summer program enrolment and interest from universities and partners throughout China. Mahon is optimistic, calling the program "a monumental achievement in positioning MRU's Conservatory and the University on the global stage. We have worked incredibly hard to build these new relationships, bring these students to Canada and provide them with a life-changing educational experience. These students have become part of the MRU community and will continue to be ambassadors for the university."

Mahon, who also emceed the event, echoed the same sentiment from the stage. "These friendships provide opportunities for students and instructors from around the world to experience an intercultural exchange through music and language."

Each visiting student was given a moment of international spotlight with the help of Conservatory instructors Shana Yang, Jean-Louis Bleau and Jiajia Li, among others. The standing-room only audience included students and faculty from MRU, community supporters, and dignitaries like Chinese Consul General Xinping Wang, who expressed his support of the partnership in the students' native language.

In the V.I.P. reception directly after the show, the reaction of the appreciative audience members matched the beaming faces on these international students. Though each culture is learning how best to communicate together, the sense of joy and accomplishment certainly didn't require translation.

Learn about opportunities through Mount Royal's Languages Institute.

Discover your voice through The Conservatory.

July 27, 2017 ― Tiona Corcoran

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