Messages from the ISS – International Student Support

A million pieces make a whole

Lea Krusemeyer (She/Her) // Contributor

Most of us who came to Canada from somewhere else know the feeling of missing out. Missing out on birthdays and weddings, but also missing out on festivities related to your culture. Events that you might have participated in every year until you left, or events that you discovered right before you left — it doesn’t matter how devoted you were to those festivities, missing out and seeing your friends back home participating might still hurt. 

Here at Capilano University, there are international students from such a wide variety of countries and cultures, which gives us a variety of colourful events to celebrate. The fact that you cannot do it at home does not have to stop you from doing it here. We are all a part of our own culture, and wherever we go, our culture follows. So gather your friends, maybe invite some strangers and celebrate the festivities that are so important where you are from. 

One example is the World of Colour celebration that was hosted at CapU on Friday, Mar. 10 by the Center for International Experience. Holi is one of the biggest celebrations within Hinduism and its main purpose is to celebrate the triumph of the good over the evil and the love of the gods Radha and Krishna. Though this is a celebration that millions of people partake in, it is not widely known in North America. That did not not stop the people at the CIE from organizing one for CapU students. The celebration was open to all CapU students who were interested in the event and that led to something beautiful — shared culture. 

Students of all nationalities participated and got to learn about the background of this beautiful event. This was just one example of sharing and participating in someone else’s culture. Recently, CapU also hosted a variety of Black History Month events, where students got to engage and learn about various African and diaspora cultures. 

You as students have the power to shape and suggest events that are hosted and offered at our university. If you feel like there is something from your home country that you want to share, reach out to a teacher or the Capilano Students’ Union. See if they can connect you to a department or a person who can help you arrange that. Our world is so big and beautiful and there is always something that can be learned. It would be a shame to not share with each other. 

If you still feel a little uncertain, here are a few examples or ideas — my roommates are from Mexico and they introduced me to “Rosca de Reyes,” a celebration that is held on January 6. A delicious cake is eaten 12 days after Christmas, and inside the cake there is either a coin or a little figurine hidden. Whoever has the token in their piece of cake is said to have luck for the rest of the year. I got invited to join that celebration for the first time last year, and it was a wonderful evening of laughter and talks. Imagine if we came together as a university and bonded over a tradition that involves eating cake? 

Another idea could be the celebration of a Carnival. Carnival, or “Karneval” in German, is a celebration that is hosted all over the world at different times of the year and with slight variations, but the core is always the same — people coming together dressed up in costumes to dance, listen to music and celebrate life. Where I am from in Germany, we celebrate this event in February — which makes it an ideal spring semester activity. Students could dress up, candy could be distributed and it would be a big celebration of life. 

Those are just two examples of events which originated in a different country and a different culture than the one we are currently living in, but are beautiful and easy to transfer to CapU. Most of you can probably think about something within your own culture that is worth sharing. 

So, do not hesitate to share your own culture — or experience the culture of your fellow students. All of you have something to offer, and all of you come from a beautiful background and deserve to feel like you can still participate in your celebrations — even though you might be thousands of miles away from home.

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