Mohawk welcomes international students with Easy Pantry program
When International student Surin Lyu visited Mohawk College for the very first time, she knew she was in for a treat – a pantry-full of treats, actually.
The first-year Early Childhood Education student from South Korea was taking advantage of a welcome event organized by the International & Partnerships Language and Culture Centre, in partnership with the Mohawk Students’ Association (MSA). From January 31 – February 4, nearly 200 newly arrived international students received a welcome package from the college – a bag full of grocery and hygiene items, as well as some sweets and baked goods – as part of the Easy Pantry program.
“It was such a warm and incredible experience,” she said. “It was the heaviest and most enjoyable welcome pack I've ever received. Furthermore, as I went to pick up the package, the staff were very sweet and welcoming.”
Lyu and her Semester 1 peers – 781 of them – arrived in Canada through December and January to begin their studies at Mohawk. Ongoing pandemic-related restrictions meant they are studying according to the hybrid model in place at the college for the Winter Semester. As a result, many of the new international students had never visited a Mohawk campus. The Easy Pantry program created an opportunity to change that, with a drop-in station at the Mohawk Students’ Association offices and an opportunity to meet with staff and volunteers from International and the MSA.
“I never had a picture of the college in my mind,” said Lyu. “I was so surprised by the facility when I visited. It was very organized, modern, and vibrant. It made me dream of campus life and lifted the shade that I had. I can't wait to commute to college next semester, hopefully.”
Lyu has been facing some of the common challenges students experience in their first semester while studying internationally. She has been settling into a new home during a cold Canadian winter while searching for a job and adjusting to studying in a new education system. However, she has become involved with the International & Partnerships Language and Culture Centre, enrolling in a job search workshop, and has felt welcomed at Mohawk all along the way.
“I received numerous emails from the college regarding orientation and many programs for first-year students,” she said. “That gave me the impression that the college has vast interest in creating a welcoming atmosphere.”
Adding an extra element to the experience, Su Lin Lyu picked up her package on the eve of her birthday.
“Receiving this welcome bomb from friendly people made my day,” she said. “I was able to see that the package was not a superficial ordinary gift. Seeing how many people put effort into this to welcome me made me very grateful and joyful. It was a perfect first birthday gift for me in Canada.”
The International & Partnerships Language and Culture Centre will host a second round of the EasyPantry program later this semester for students arriving later this year.