Students sharing cultures through intercultural mentorship program
BY TESSA ALLEN
A mentorship program at Red River College is encouraging local and international students to learn about other cultures.
For Dilpreet Singh, who recently came to Canada from India, the college’s intercultural mentorship program is a chance to both teach people about his own experiences, and to learn more about Canada.
“I can get to know about the culture,” said Singh.
Singh said he is also excited to be able to share his experiences growing up LGBTQ in India with other students through the program.
Emphasis is placed on asking questions to learn about other cultures, allowing participants to better recognize their own cultural lens.
The program, which takes about 10 hours to complete, sees a Canadian-raised student or staff member paired with an international student. Each participant acts as a mentor to the other, with the local mentor showing their partner Winnipeg and its culture, and the global mentor teaching their partner about their own country and culture.
The program has been running in one form or another for over a decade, with about 250 to 300 students participating. Each year, there are more participants in the fall term than in the winter, and more global mentors than local ones.
Program coordinator Gabriela Ludusan said she feels this difference is because international and immigrant students are already outside of their comfort zone, while locals generally have little motivation to leave theirs.
Ludusan, who has participated in the program several times, said it gives people a chance to explore a new perspective on their own culture, and a much-needed platform to express their values and experiences.
“Only through asking questions do you get to know others,” said Ludusan.
Ludusan said the program is about discovering a different culture and value system.
The intercultural mentorship program runs twice a year during the fall and winter terms.