International peer supports line up to greet incoming students. Photo: Nicole Schmidt.

Old welcome new at International Students’ welcome party

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By Nicole Schmidt

Over 300 students, faculty members and special guests gathered in POD250 on Thursday for an afternoon full of good company, food, entertainment, prizes, and celebration.

Each year, International Student Services (ISS) hosts a party to welcome students from all over the world to Ryerson.

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“The purpose of this event is not only about a welcome message, it’s about community,” said Diana Nig, the coordinator of ISS. “We want students to feel like upon arriving in Canada, they already have a community to welcome them.”

Nig says that by creating a community, the anxieties that students have upon arriving to Canada can be reduced, allowing them to focus on making new friends, having fun, and enjoying their experiences.

Over the past 10 years, the welcome party has grown in popularity. This has attracted special guests such as city councilor Krystyn Wong-Tam, and Ryerson’s chancellor, Lawrence Bloomberg.

Nig says that in recent years, the event has always been over-attended – to the extent that the venue has reached maximum capacity.

“This is one of the largest events International Student Services hosts over the year because it’s such high profile with the number of attendances and number of different representatives from the community,” said Nig.

This year marks another fantastic turn out.

The afternoon kicked off with a lively African dance and drum performance, followed by welcome messages from Ryerson president Sheldon Levy and Ryerson’s chancellor, Lawrence Bloomberg.

Bloomberg encouraged the students to take advantage of all the opportunities available and to make the most of the experiences to be had at Ryerson.

“You’re making [Ryerson] a better university with your talents and your dreams,” said Bloomberg.

Other acts, including a magician and a Brazilian samba trio, also took to the stage, engaging and entertaining the audience.

But one of the most important groups to step on stage were the international student peer supporters, a group of students from difference faculties representing different cultural backgrounds that connect with new students.

Each of these peer supporters had the opportunity to introduce themselves to the audience in a way that reflected their personality and their culture. Some sang, some danced, some told jokes, and some even played soccer.

Nitin Jaitely, a peer supporter from India, says that this event gives people the chance to open up to one another.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet people from other countries,” said Jaitely. “It gives you the chance to get to know them and to open up to them.”

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