Building community at Red River College. Start one-on-one

Mentor partners Prathamesh and Barrett after a bike ride around the city and taking a rest at the Red River Floodway.

Mentor partners Prathamesh and Barrett after a bike ride around the city and taking a rest at the Red River Floodway.

Communities grow stronger when people do a variety of simple things together that give them chances to connect with others, build trust and get involved in doing things together. Volunteering with the Intercultural Mentorship Program offers opportunities to students and staff to engage with others outside the classroom, on your free time, in a positive and fun way that encourages reflection and dialogue and enhances interpersonal and communication skills.

Sarthak is a Technology Management student who came to Canada from India in August 2016 and wanted to make more friends and get to know the new environment from the perspective of a local person. His mentor partner Kateryn is a Business Admin student who lived in Canada all her life. Growing up with a lot of people from the same culture, she joined the Intercultural Mentorship Program to see how other cultures are different and similar and learn about someone else’s background.

They met on campus for coffee and conversation, at Stella’s for lunch, visited the Forks and went for a walk at Assiniboine Park together and discussed lots of topics that are relevant to them and that allowed them to appreciate each other’s perspectives. One of the conversations Kathryn fondly remembers is about school: “The way I, a local partner, look at school is just so much different from the way Sarthak looks at things. He is a little older than me and went to university in India, so his experience is a lot different than mine. It was interesting to discuss the differences in both the teaching ways and our mental learning habits.” Sarthak also enjoyed exploring his partner’s culture, the differences in perspectives and how those differences are related to culture: “The important point is even though we are different we share same human values which I came across during my conversation with my cultural partner on varying topics.”

106 students and staff at Red River College have successfully completed the Intercultural Mentorship Program in the Fall Term. Lots of insightful intercultural conversation was generated on topics such as personal interests and hobbies, education and student life, settlement experiences, politics, communication styles, LGBTT* culture in different cultures etc. Partners explored Winnipeg together, tried out new traditional foods, visited the Human Rights Museum, attended Jets’ community practice, concerts at Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the corn maze, Halloween or Christmas related activities, fishing, biking and many other activities that helped create a bond, as well as enhanced participants’ interpersonal, intercultural communication and leadership skills.

Who doesn’t like living and learning in a community that is welcoming and inclusive? Seeking opportunities to positively engage with others is a wonderful way to start building community! Sign up to be a Mentor in the Intercultural Mentorship Program! Applications for the Winter term accepted until January 18, 2017. Visit www.rrc.ca/imp to read or and to apply!