International education is being celebrated at UNBC this week, with several events slated over the next few days.
UNBC has students, faculty and staff from more than 50 countries, so the annual event is well deserved and received.
“Diversity is one of the most spectacular things and blessings to mankind,” said Lila Monsour, a third-year economics student. “Our ancestors didn’t embrace it very well and I think they missed out on a lot. In a world of so much diversity and uniqueness and when differences are accepted, we realize we have so much to learn from one another.”
Events like Global U allow students, faculty and staff to share their experiences, cultures, and beliefs.
“Racism and discrimination is still very real around us,” she said. “People are afraid to express their beliefs, speak their languages and share their culture … People are afraid to wear their religious attire and to say what they believe. We’ve come a long way but there’s still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done.”
She said the real challenge is to fight ignorance.
“Some people would rather make assumptions than go to the source and learn,” she said. “When people tell me to keep my religion at home, it’s not because they understand my beliefs or know what they are, it’s because they’ve made assumptions based on my appearance and what they think I believe.”
Monsour is an active member of the Muslim Student Association and has served as vice-president of the debate association.
She said the Global U week is a time to ask questions of other people, find out who they are and what they believe.
“Get out of your comfort zone and experience the diversity of UNBC,” she said.
Interim President Geoff Payne international education is very important to the university.
“Global U is an opportunity for us to celebrate international education,” Payne said. “By welcoming international and exchange students and giving our students the opportunities to go on exchanges, what we’re doing is opening our community to diverse ideas and different cultures. It’s so important for us.”
Payne, along with Leonel Roldan, UNBC director, International, opened the Global Lounge on campus.
“This space is meant to be a student-centred, multi-use space in the heart of our Prince George campus,” he said. “The lounge helps to build a welcoming community and celebrates a diversity of cultures, perspectives, and world views.”