A closed door and empty room is what awaits you if you try to visit the International Student Centre in the E-Wing. Why, do you ask? It’s simple – they’ve moved!
As of August, the International Student Centre moved into W-101 in the HP Centre just in time for the Fall semester – taking over the space formerly occupied by the Advising Centre.
The new space offers a lot of potential for the Centre. The old E-Wing location, located next to the Nugget offices, had limited space and capabilities.
“Well, our space has almost more than doubled in size,” said Sultan Almajil, centre supervisor. “In the past, our advisers had cubicles within the space, so it limited us … if students wanted to have more confidential meetings or discussions it was more exposed but now we actually have an advising division in the space so students can have more privacy when talking about difficulties.
“And then we have the open space, which is solely for students to get to know one another. It’s definitely been a big upgrade for us and we’re very happy with it so far.”
This space upgrade also means that physically, the Centre can accommodate more events and services than before. In addition to extra computers (six computers for student use, up from three), work stations for peer mentors and the Centre’s engagement co-ordinator and a more formalized reception area, the added capacity for events is beneficial for students and the centre. For example, the centre hosted the Autumn Festival this year for the first time.
“We’re always open to something new. In the previous location, that probably wouldn’t be possible,” explained Almajil, “Now, with a larger venue, we’re getting international students who are representing clubs seeking us out saying ‘we love this space, we love working with you, we want to bring our culture to your space’.
“It’s taking what we had before and expanding it further.”
As for the potential for new programs offered by the centre, that’s currently up in the air but Almajil is optimistic.
“We haven’t really gotten to [adding new programs] yet but we do have a plan,” he said. “We had the NAIT meet and greet in the centre – that used to be somewhere else like the North Lobby because the space wasn’t big enough but now we can just attract the students into our own area and with that it allows us to be more creative, to bring in some-thing new.
“We’ve been here now since August and things are starting to settle now after the new intake. We’re definitely going to bring in something new but it’s in the works, it’s in the plan.”
The move was met with some trepidation, however. Before the CAT building opening, the E-Wing and South Lobby were the two prime locations on campus for accessing student services. E-Wing in particular has been the primary home for most student engagement, including NAITSA, the Campus Clubs office, the Encana Aboriginal Student Centre and the International Student Centre. A move way from that major thoroughfare, even with the new CAT building, is a major change from centralizing those services.
“We were very worried about our move, because we knew that we were in a high traffic area on campus and a lot of students would know where we were, so we were worried that maybe they wouldn’t get enough notice or would have the old habits of just going to the old locations,” said Almajil.
“But the returning students have easily migrated with us to the new space. We see them here regularly. And because it’s not crowded during that afternoon period, they’re actually bringing in their friends. It’s been really positive so far.”
– Nicolas Brown, Issues Editor
Image of HP Centre from Wikipedia