International students’ club to provide representation, support

Founder hopes to provide a platform for students far from home

Last year's international festival was a big hit.

Last year’s international festival was a big hit. Photo courtesy of BCIT SA

It may be easy for homegrown students to go about their routines on campus without the pressure of making new friends, but the same cannot necessarily be said for international students.

International students must find ways to connect to the culture, the city, and most importantly, their peers on campus, which can be a struggle. Rodrigo Mendez, a second-year international student from Venezuela, hopes to turn that struggle around.

After observing the lack of multicultural representation on campus, Mendez decided to create the Association of International Students (AIS), which was sanctioned as a club by the BCIT Student Association on October 29.

AIS will be a hub where international students can network, make connections, and find a sense of community. The club’s primary goal is to provide international students with resources that will contribute to their social and professional lives at BCIT.

Rather than simply promoting cultures on campus, Mendez has a different vision.

“The [Association of International Students] is here to create a mentorship program for international students. I know it is tough for those coming abroad to get accustomed to the campus life and this club will allow [them] to instantly connect because these students already share a common ground,” he Mendez explained.

The club’s main initiative will be a type of mentorship program to help incoming international students acclimatize to the overwhelming BCIT experience and the cultural shock of living in a new city.

“Our current 60 members have already asked me how to get in and around the city. We’ve been doing several activities, visiting downtown and planning dinners,” Mendez told The Link. “All of this may not seem like a lot but it means a boatload to those who have no family in this city and are looking for an outlet to connect with their peers.”

Promoting multiculturalism on BCIT’s diverse campus will provide an opportunity to celebrate cultures and work to create unity through diversity.

“Coming from SFU and being part of several clubs, it felt like a home away from home. But at BCIT I don’t feel that connection,” explained BCIT engineering student Gurinder Brar. “Now it has the potential to change and it’s great to see that a platform is provided for those who are in dire need for it.”

AIS’ success means the world to Mendez, who hopes that this outlet can provide international students with solutions to the challenges they face daily.

To learn more about the BCIT Association of International Students, check out the World Showcase Showdown, taking place November 16 at the Great Hall. A host of countries will be represented in booths staffed by students eager to show off their homelands.[hr]

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