Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX program pairing international and domestic students and the local community receives community health funding

January 24th, 2018
A new StFX initiative that helps build friendships between international and domestic students and the local community has received funding from the Antigonish Town and County Community Health Board, in connection with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Here, members of StFX’s Global Connections Buddy Program are seen enjoying an evening of curling.

A new StFX initiative that helps build friendships between international and domestic students and the local community has received funding from the Antigonish Town and County Community Health Board, in connection with the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

StFX’s Global Connections Buddy Program is one of several local projects and organizations to receive funding from the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Wellness Fund. Presentations were made Jan. 22 at the People's Place Library in Antigonish.

Several local projects and organizations, including StFX’s Global Connections Buddy Program, received funding from the Antigonish Town and County Community Health Board in connection with Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Wellness Fund. Here, representatives of the various groups are seen at the Jan. 22 presentation.

“We’re very fortunate the health board is able to provide funding. This is a huge help,” says Donald Rasmussen, International Student Engagement Coordinator in StFX’s Office of Internationalization.

This year a cohort from Religious Studies, the International Office, Service Learning, Recruitment and Admissions, the Registrar’s Office and Antigonish Community Transit created the Buddy Program with a goal to pair service learning students with new international students to provide opportunities for students to build friendships while participating together in cultural activities connected to the Antigonish community.

Mr. Rasmussen says the Buddy Program started as a test program in September, pairing first year international students with upper year Canadian students. Each week, the pairs of students meet for a social activity of their choice such as sharing a meal, studying together, going for a hike or catching a movie. A group activity is planned each month that has some community relevance.

So far, participants have travelled to Keppoch Mountain to meet with Mi’kmaq Elders to learn about Aboriginal culture and to hike, have travelled to Sherbrooke Village to attend its annual Christmas event, and have spent time curling at the rink in St. Andrew’s where students from every continent were represented.

Participants in the Buddy Program at Keppoch Mountain (top photo) and Sherbrooke Village Christmas event (bottom photo.)

“We have the sense that while domestic students and international students have a good experience at StFX, in some ways it’s a little separated. We want to help students integrate into the community. This seems to be a really functional way to do this,” Mr. Rasmussen says.

He says there’s been good reception from the students involved.

“It seems like a program we can expand.”

 

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