The Global Student Centre (GSC) at SFU’s Burnaby campus is a hub for all students; both domestic and international, to meet other people, study, and share their experiences. We run events that celebrate diversity, and create awareness. As an international student studying at SFU, one of the reasons I applied for this position is because I wanted to contribute to the SFU community. During my time at SFU, I have heard several students voice their concerns about how they would love to see more events on campus that offer an opportunity to mingle with other students from different backgrounds. Being an international student, I understand how difficult it is to step out of one’s comfort zone and try to approach other people. Thus, through my role as the Intercultural Engagement Assistant at the GSC, I am glad to be able to have a positive impact on the connection students have with the community at SFU.
As the Intercultural Engagement (IE) Assistant, I take care of the affairs in the GSC such as managing bookings for the space, planning and organizing interactive events for students, and working with the International Services for Students (ISS) Marketing and Communications Assistant, who is also a co-op student, on advertising design and promotional strategies.
When asked about her time at the GSC, Liza Zhang, who previously held this role, said, “I have enjoyed working at the GSC as I love talking to people and hearing their stories. I got to interact on a daily basis with students who have positive energy and creative ideas, and have also learned about the importance of being inclusive in my work, and particularly in the events that I organize. With the help of my supervisor, I pursued events that celebrated other cultures and included students from all over the world. Working for eight months at the GSC, I realized that working with students could be my future career since I am passionate about it. I am excited to use what I have learned from my time at the GSC.”
The GSC role has evolved over the past year. As the Intercultural Engagement (IE) Assistant my responsibilities now include, not only managing the GSC, planning and running events, but also co-chairing, the new volunteer committee known as the Global Engagement Student Committee (GESC). This committee consists of a group of nine students that organize a semesterly program with the aim of fostering intercultural understanding and engagement, celebrating diversity and promoting community awareness at SFU. I am responsible for delegating tasks, making sure that deadlines are met, arranging meetings, communicating information to the committee and providing other assistance when necessary. This semester, the committee decided to hold a week-long event full of fun activities, which included International Games Night, Movie and Dialogue in celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in collaboration with SFU International. Other events included Speed Dating, which allowed students to meet one another, Global Tea House where we served different teas from different countries, and Cultural Fest in collaboration with Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS).
Michelle Hubble, who works as a GSC Assistant had this to say about working at the Global Student Centre, “Having the freedom to be creative with my work has been one of the most enjoyable parts of working at the Centre. Staff members are flexible and open to ideas, which makes working at the GSC very fulfilling. I have found it satisfying being able to come up with unique ideas, and carrying them through to the end; there is no better feeling then seeing your hard work being supported by a team and because of that, witnessing a successful result.”
During my time at the GSC, I have also had the opportunity to work with other campus partners and SFU student clubs to run events in order to build an intercultural and engaged community at SFU. Some of the groups that we have partnered with to promote diversity and awareness around health and wellness and refugee issues include the International Peer Leaders and Health Peers, World University Services of Canada (WUSC), International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the SFU Red Cross Club.
This role is sometimes autonomous; I have opportunities to make programming decisions, and I am supported in planning, organizing and running them. That being said, my supervisor, the Intercultural Student Engagement Coordinator, provides guidance, suggestions and feedback when necessary, and we often work closely with one another. My work varies depending on what projects the Engagement Coordinator has to work on. I have helped with conducting research and completed an environmental scan, and have also been able to assist in the preparation and facilitation of intercultural workshops for student groups including the GES Committee and for SFU students living in residence.
This role is different from and more informal than normal office work. It sometimes requires work outside of general business hours and occasionally on the weekends. This January, we went snowshoeing with close to 100 students. It was a really fun day, and it was also my first time ever going snowshoeing!
This position has given me the opportunity to develop my interpersonal skills through working with both students and staff on events. I have also been able to improve my communication skills, both oral and written, as I communicate with staff and students regularly through emails, phone calls and, of course, in person. Most importantly, I have built on my intercultural competence skills, which is the ability to communicate effectively with people from other cultures through training programs like Passport to Leadership, which I was able to complete as part of this position. I have also gained significant knowledge in diversity, global awareness, and in providing an inclusive environment by learning more about other cultures during events and through interacting with students from different backgrounds.
Beyond the Blog
Interested in getting involved with the Global Student Centre as well as programs and events at SFU for students to build self-awareness, intercultural understanding, and respect for diversity? Check out Intercultural Engagement.