Cultural Togetherness – Bonding with International Students

by Maritime
Categories: 2020, News Archive

As one can imagine, international students travelling to Canada to take up temporary residence may experience butterflies, jitters, and even cold feet. But many students who have enrolled with Cape Breton University have adapted quite well with the help of community togetherness.

Major Corey Vincent of The Salvation Army has been living in Sydney for the past four years and is very much community minded. For a number of years, Cape Breton University have hosted International students from countries such as, India, Korea, China, African countries, and more. “It was natural to see many students at various public places within the community,” Corey recalls.

When a group of students attended church one Sunday it didn’t take long for new friendships to form. “All of these students are thousands of miles away from their families and have never experienced Canadian culture or Canadian seasons,” Corey says. “These students are coming to us looking for community support.”

Adapting to Canadian Culture

Many students have limited financial and practical resources, so their need to reach out to the community became apparent. Community groups and service clubs have partnered with The Salvation Army to help meet this growing need.

“We have taken the approach of readiness,” Corey says. “God brought these students to our community and we are ready to embrace them, care for them, and welcome them as family. We welcomed them and invited them to our church and opened our homes inviting them to join us for meals.”

The Salvation Army Sydney Community Church has had an increase in attendance in recent months due to the community involvement and interaction among the students. It wasn’t long before the growing church began serving up international dishes which became an engaging event. Recently, members of the church hosted an international student dinner, followed by cultural dancing. It was a time of celebration and culture togetherness.

Ongoing Support

Students have received winter clothing as well as food, and emotional support. The Salvation Army has recently joined with the Rotary Clubs in the region and provided mattresses to students who had been sleeping on mats or couches.

The students sense the family and community environment so they continue to invite their fellow students and family members to church. At the beginning of each semester, members of the congregation, along with the students, host a neighborhood walk to open the door of communication and extend an invitation to join their church family. The congregation and community will continue to support and offer assistance as the need arises, even with government documents such as driver’s licenses and passports.

There’s still loneliness among the students as they are far from their homes. As heartbreaking as that is, according to Corey, “it’s an easy need to meet!”

By: Jan Keats