Around the world in 50 years

International Centre celebrates anniversary

The centre has shifted their focus in programming since opening.
The centre has shifted their focus in programming since opening.
Credit: 
Supplied

In the midst of their 50th year on campus, the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) is looking to the past.

Director Wayne Myles said he’s been working with the rest of the QUIC’s staff to educate the campus more on the history of the QUIC itself and the programs it runs.

“If we could say that the first 20 years was largely involved in international student support that would probably be the best way of saying where our roots are and a lot of people put it as a home away from home,” he said.

Myles said he believes that spirit still remains, with both domestic and international students often using the QUIC to prepare food, take breaks between classes or nap on the couches provided.

“The first house [for the QUIC] was purchased in [1962]. This particular centre —- the physical centre —- has been open since about [1966],” he said. “That was a cooperative venture between Queen’s University, the Rotary clubs of Kingston and area and the International students who researched it.”

From the start, the QUIC’s focus has been on providing students with support and a home away from home while they are away from their native country.

This has remained constant while the nature of government programming, availability of entry visas into Canada and many other factors have fluctuated over previous years.

Throughout the 1980s and 90s, the QUIC expanded its programming to educate students, faculty and staff going abroad on safety risks. With an initial focus on incoming international students, the Centre eventually became a support for outgoing students as well.

“Whether it’s a Canadian student looking to go abroad or an international student coming in for health insurance or advising, we try to be there for them in that appropriate way,” Myles said.

Most recently, he added, the Centre has focused much of its programming around increasing intercultural education and competency.

These programs, while available to all, are directed more so at domestic students interested in going abroad.

“Domestic students, Canadian students … are now becoming aware and have been for a number of years of the world out there and what it’s like to be interculturally aware,” Myles said.

While the amount of domestic students involved with the QUIC has grown since its inception, the amount of international students using the QUIC’s services has also been on the rise.

“If we look at a graph, we can see that the number of students has gone up,” Myles said. “We probably have the most degree students on campus this year than we’ve ever had.”

Myles said the despite the changes over the years, spirit of the QUIC has remained relatively intact since its opening.

Queen’s alumni, such as Edward Nkole, ArtsSci ’10 said the QUIC has always had a welcoming presence.

“One of the things I’ve really valued about QUIC is just how open-minded and very aware people at QUIC are… I felt comfortable talking to [them] about anything and everything. In some cases they’ll understand the cultures better than myself,” Nkole said.

The Centre is also enriched by many of the educational programs it offers to students to help them integrate into the Kingston community and succeed in their classes at Queen’s.

Prabeen Yoshi, PhD ’15 an international student from Nepal, said he’s taken advantage of many of the QUIC’s programs since starting his studies at Queen’s

in 2010.

“This is one of the places where I interact with lots of different kind of people,” he said. “It also helped me improve my English, for example, and my communication skills.”

Elizabeth Woods, the student English language program assistant at the QUIC is one of the students responsible for facilitating English language conversation groups, as well as the Language Buddy program at the QUIC.

It’s ultimately this mix of students — alumni, international students and domestic students — that will be helping to shape and celebrate the 50th anniversary at QUIC.

“I think just on a daily basis I’ll be celebrating by helping other people out ... I think it’s going to be a continual celebration for the whole year,” Woods, ArtSci ’13 said.

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