Social Integration is key to feeling connected to a university. In two separate surveys, international students identified Newfoundlanders as being friendly, but that they seem unwilling to form lasting relationships with International Students. Furthermore, the geographic location of Newfoundland, including its isolation from the rest of Canada, and the unforgiving winter climate, can add to a sense of loneliness among International Students.
The International Student Advising Office (ISA), is chiefly responsible for the social integration and well-being of international students, however they do not have their own budget, nor do they have an easily accessible location. Even with their limited resources, the ISA operates the following program (among many other programs and services):
– MUN Mentors Program
– Holiday Hosting Program
– Family programs
– Advising to students
– Coffee Club Program
– many, many more…
Intercultural Competency is the ability to communicate and interact effectively and appropriately with people of other countries without disrespecting their culture, rules and/or norms. Over the past several years, the competency level of approximately 135 staff members at Memorial has been measured through the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). This assessment measures peoples’ abilities to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. It was found that the majority of people surveyed through this assessment held a minimization view of cultural differences. As seen through the diagram (above), the minimization level of Intercultural competency sits right in the middle of the spectrum. These people, while understanding the value of equality, focus heavily on the similarities between people, and not enough on the differences.
As Memorial University becomes increasingly internationalized, staff and faculty need to have a grasp on the issues facing International students, and how culture and language can play into academic life. Social and academic integration must be supported by faculty and staff members who have strong Intercultural Competency.