Global Connections Challenge: attempting to bridge international and domestic students

Still of Lucia Pavon managing the Global Connections' event, held this past November 15th, 2023. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

The St. Thomas University Student Union (STUSU) hosted the Global Connections Challenge in Sir James Dunn Hall on Nov. 15 as part of the International Education Week. 

The event consisted of a five-minute conversation between an international student and a domestic student where they tried to find the most things in common so they could earn points.

Ana Lucía Pavón, the international representative of STUSU and the organizer of the event said that this event was planned with James Brennan, St. Thomas University International Students’ Association Canadian liaison, to help students make connections with each other.

“We have international [students] and Canadians giving them five minutes to talk then you’re forcing them to talk to each other,” said Pavón. “They can feel, not only comfortable with each other, but they can maybe be friends.”

She said that her motivation comes from a friend who had to leave the country after not being able to adapt to a different culture.

“The importance of the event is to foster that relationship between international and Canadian students.”

Pavón highlighted her concern for the lack of involvement from Canadian students in the social events.

“Most events here at STU, the lack of Canadian involvement is quite concerning … we needed the internationals and the Canadian students to click,” said Pavón.

Pavón reinstated this lack of participation from domestic students at STUSU’s weekly meeting. 

Related: Weekly Brief: Nov. 13 to 17

Laura Patiño, a second-year international student from Colombia, said that it was a good opportunity to get to know another person from a different culture. 

“I was hesitant because basic questions didn’t count for points, so you had to go deeper into knowing the person,” said Patiño. 

She also said that this event helped connect international students with the STU community as there is not a lot of involvement from domestic students in the campus events. 

“That involvement, especially more from the Canadian students, I feel that it’s important because international students … do more stuff on campus.”

Patiño said that this event not only helped her make new friends, but these connections enhanced her university experience. 

Kensey Alonso, a second-year international student from Honduras, said that she was nervous looking forward to the event as she does not get to spend a lot of time with Canadian students. 

“I thought it was going to be a little bit weird to just speak with the Canadians face to face and speak, but it was very entertaining,” said Alonso. “I feel like if I see those people that I just met five minutes ago, if I see them in a hallway, they’re going to say hi.”