Meet and greet at local pub unites international students
Keila DePape, CONTRIBUTOR
Winnipeg winters can be an isolating time, and new international students at Red River College say the shock of freezing temperatures can be a barrier to getting out to meet new people.
A meet and greet at the King’s Head Pub on Jan. 12 was intended to get international students warming up to each other.
Paraminderjeet Singh, 18, who attended the meet and greet, arrived in Winnipeg from India just a few weeks ago to study business technology management.
Landing in Winnipeg to a cool –25 C, Singh said he wasn’t sure how he would ever adjust.
“I was just thinking, ‘Why the hell did I come here. I just want to go back,’” said Singh.
At the bar, Singh sat with the friends he came with, until student integration coordinator Lauren Konrad facilitated more mingling and introduced him and his friends to a table with mainly Brazilian students.
Singh said events like these make him realize how he’s changed since coming to Canada.
“In my home country I was very introverted, but here there’s many opportunities to express myself and my ideas in front of others,” said Singh.
Erika Falcao, 28, moved to Canada last August and says the event helps her get out of her comfort zone.
“I’m not the kind of person to start a conversation,” said Falcao, who left Brazil to study applied accounting at RRC.
Falcao studied accounting in Brazil, but moved to Canada for safety reasons.
Her husband, a bank manager, was the victim of four separate robberies in the city of Recife, said Falcao.
The couple made the decision to leave Brazil after the last attack, where Falcao’s husband was held at gunpoint inside a bank, said Falcao.
“I feel safer here. It’s no comparison, even downtown,” she said.
The meet and greet was part of the Canadian Connections program, which is open to international students from all RRC campuses.
The program is intended to help new comers feel comfortable in Winnipeg through cultural, social, and recreational activities.
More than 1,500 international students currently study at RRC, largely at the Exchange District Campus, said Konrad, adding she sees higher numbers every year.
Most of the students come from China, India, and Brazil, said Konrad.
About 40 international students came out to the meet and greet. Konrad said it was a great turnout for the event’s second year bringing together new and existing international students.
The next Canadian Connections event will be at The Forks on Jan. 28, where some students will lace up for the first time and learn to skate.