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International Centre gets new name and focus

a group of international students sit outside at a table

By Sarabeth Castro

NAIT’s International Centre has rebranded with a new name to better reflect the services they offer to the community. They announced their new name, NAIT International and Intercultural Community Centre (IICC), at their virtual launch celebration on March 15th. Julie Desrochers, director for global education and partnerships led the presentation. They talked about different channels to support NAIT’s diverse student and staff populations to build community, develop EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) and intercultural competence, and connect with services that meet their needs.

The launch was a three-day celebration, with activities like international student jeopardy on March 15th and an English conversation circle on March 17th, where students discussed adapting to life at NAIT and Canada. On March 18th, there was a presentation by Tim Ira on the idea of “mattering” in social justice movements. 

The name-change represents an expansion of the scope of services the centre will offer. While previously the International Centre focused on supporting international students in their transition to NAIT and Canada, the centre will now also provide inter-cultural and cross-cultural opportunities, said Freya Fu, international engagement coordinator at IICC. The EDI office is also housed in the centre, so they will be offering workshops to staff and students around different aspects of EDI. 

“The shift really went from services that are very specific to international students, to building that community not just for international [students], but for anyone who wants to be engaged in this conversation. So there’s a lot more community based,” said Fu.

The centre still remains a hub for international students, said Fu, and according to the IICC webpage, the centre “serves as a “home away from home” for international students and a safe space on campus where all students can find community”. 

Although many of the programs offered remain the same, students will no longer be able to access immigration advisors through IICC. Instead, specialized academic advisors are available within the department of transition services.

“They have a really good team of academic advisors…all of the advisors with [an immigration focus] are licensed to give out immigration advice, and that’s very critical because you are held accountable for what you give out in terms of immigration advice,” said Fu. 

The IICC plans to host an in-person launch in September 2022, and Fu is looking forward to the prospect of hosting more in-person events. Some of the Community Building activities the centre has planned include a community space, international peer groups, English conversation circles, international engagement social events and a Global café. 

The centre is located at W101-HP Centre Main Campus. They are currently open Monday through Friday, and all members of the NAIT community are welcome. To learn more about IICC, visit their website.

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