A case study of Black History Month in the context of inclusive internationalization.
We would like to acknowledge that the land on which this episode was recorded is the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg People.
In this episode, we are attempting to answer some very complex questions. How does Black History Month fit into inclusive internationalization?
This episode is hosted by Kimberly Jean Pharuns, Community Engagement Manager at CBIE.
Our guests for this episode are:
Richard Webster, Internationalization Lead, St Lawrence College.
Dr. Joseph Mensah, Professor, Department of Geography, York University.
Dr. Jean-Blaise Samou, Assistant Professor of Francophone & Intercultural Studies, Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Saint Mary’s University.
Clémence Mugabo, International Economics and Development Student, University of Ottawa.
Laure Ngarambe, Mathematics and Economics Student, University of Ottawa.
If you are a CBIE member, visit community.cbie-bcei.ca to join our Community Hub for some bonus content!
The CBIE Podcast may contain views and opinions which are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Canadian Bureau for International Education.
The CBIE Podcast
Kimberly: This podcast is brought to you by the Canadian Bureau for International Education, CBIE.
Within the complex environment of international education, the CBIE podcast seeks to elevate the voice of practitioners. CBIE wants to create a space for learning where we can discover new ideas, challenge our preconceptions and advance our internationalization efforts.
[00:00:31] This CBIE podcast is for the community, by the community. In each episode, you will hear from experts in our field, as they answer your questions.
[00:00:45] Hello, I’m Kimberly Jean Pharuns, Community Engagement Manager at CBIE, and I will be your host for today’s episode. I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we are recording is the traditional unseated territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people.
[00:01:02] Welcome to the first episode of the CBIE podcast. Our team has been working really hard to bring this project to life and I’m very happy to be here in the studio recording for you. We are very grateful for this opportunity to bring people together in a space where we can learn and discuss what matters in our field. As you may already know, CBIE just had two major launches. Our new 2020-2025 strategic plan is out with a large emphasis on inclusivity. Also, our community hub is now live.
[00:01:35] The hub is a social network exclusive to CBIE members, with forums managed by the lead of our professional learning community. With this great momentum, we think a podcast will be a great addition to CBIE’s value proposition. Podcasting is such a powerful medium and it will allow us to reach listeners from institutions from coast to coast. So, whether you’re at UBC or UPI, or anywhere in between, thank you for joining me.
[00:02:03] In today’s episode, we are attempting to answer some very complex questions. I think we can all agree that inclusive internationalization has become a very important topic in our field. It’s a big priority for many institutions. For example, inclusive internationalization will be the theme of CBIE’s Western Regional Meeting in June 2020. The event will be hosted by the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.
[00:02:30] At the time of recording this podcast, it is February, right in the middle of many Black History Month celebrations. Now, how does Black History Month fit into inclusive internationalization? Are the two even related? As a first step, let’s take a look at CBIE’s internationalization statement of principles.
[00:02:50] The internationalization of education can be defined as the process of integrating international, intercultural and global dimensions and perspectives and to the purpose, function and delivery of education. Check out CBIE’s website for further details on our definition of internationalization.
[00:03:09] Now, let’s have a chat with someone in the field working on internationalization. Richard Webster is the internationalization lead at St. Lawrence College, and he’ll be joining us from his office in Kingston, Ontario. Richard, tell us a little bit about yourself and your current position at St. Lawrence College.
Richard: [00:03:27] Sure. So, my current position is internationalization lead for St. Lawrence College, and we’re located in Kingston, Brockville and Cornwall. And I’m also a part-time faculty in the School of Business here, and the School of Community Services. Most of my background kind of leading up to this role has been focused on public policy and advocacy within government largely, as well as international non-profit.
Kimberly: [00:03:54] What is internationalization at St. Lawrence College?
Richard: [00:03:59] Well, as I always say, because I present about this very often, as you can imagine with the role that I have, internationalization is a really large concept that can mean different things to different people, and to different institutions, whether in theory, about how we think about it, or in practice. And for St. Lawrence, when we started this initiative a couple of years ago, we really looked to CBIE’s definition as kind of our guiding star, so to speak.
[00:04:31] Because we certainly see this as a process, in itself, and one that I might add is one that has to be looked at through a lens of continuous improvement. It’s not something I think that there’s a cookie-cutter solution to. It’s something that we always have to be examining and evolving with. But certainly, it’s that process of that integration of those different international and global components across the work of the entire institution.
[00:05:01] So, whether that be our curriculum, our teaching, our services, the research that we do, our partnerships and so much more than that, as well. The other piece that I think really guides our work, I think from day 1 I could say that this was a kind of a key focus for us – is that how CBIE defines internationalization has that focus on helping students becoming global citizens and expanding their worldviews.
[00:05:32] And I think for me, personally, one thing that really drew me to that component of the definition is because there’s that broader significance of supporting one another to value diversity and to respect Indigenous peoples and their ways of knowing and being. I think that’s a really important kind of overlapping element of internationalization, and something that certainly applies not only to our students but throughout this process to each and every one of us that’s involved in the institution where this is taking place.
[00:06:05] In terms of practice, how this has been rolling out over the past couple of years there’s been I would say five key pillars or buckets of responsibility and need that have fallen within this project. So, first being with consultation and engagement, so we’ve run a very long consultation process because, you know, kind of coming back to when we were looking at defining internationalization for the college, we need to really, at the outset of the project, we need to understand how our members of our community see internationalization.
[00:06:40] How should it look for the college? So that was really important for us. So we ran surveys for students and faculty, staff and administration. We had focus groups. We had student pop-up events and other kinds of more innovative things, too. So we ran a social hackathon on each of our campuses and invited different community partners and employers to be involved in that process to get input from the community around internationalization, what it should look like, how we can work together to be successful with that.
[00:07:15] Similarly, with the engagement piece, we’ve also been trying to build stronger partnerships with our area’s immigration partners. So, for example, one thing that I’m really excited about that we’ve been able to partner with Kingston Immigration Partnership on is their Say Hello Campaign. So it draws attention to the demographics of these smaller communities that are certainly changing, not only because of immigration but because of the growth of international students in our communities, right?
[00:07:49] So it’s really nice to kind of showcase that to the community, as well, and be a part of those conversations at a broader level.
Kimberly: It’s very interesting how you approach this in a holistic way.
Richard: [00:08:02] We’ve certainly kind of from outside of this work, too, when I came on board, the focus has been – we’ve described it as comprehensive internationalization. So we want to make sure that we’re kind of addressing many different areas. I think oftentimes when people think about internationalization as it relates to post-secondary, the focus is primarily on people thinking about bringing international students, right?
[00:08:29] And so we want to be clear that this work is about so much more than that. So really kind of gets to that piece of inclusion. We need to be – have everyone’s voice at the table and to be heard and to be represented essentially within our strategy and how that rolls out.
Kimberly: As the League of Internationalization, what significance does the concept of inclusivity have in your day-to-day activities?
Richard: [00:09:01] That’s a really great question. And truthfully, I think that inclusivity has absolutely everything to do with my day-to-day activities. It needs to, really. It’s something that I certainly strive for to have people feel included in this change, in this work, and ultimately, too, to feel comfortable to share their perspectives with me. And that’s something that I tried really hard at, particularly at the beginning of the project a couple of years ago, to ensure that people knew that, whether as a group or as an individual or a group of faculty or so forth, I’m here and I want to hear from people.
[00:09:40] So, I’m kind of building that inclusion from Day 1 to ensure people know that they are part of this. It’s not just myself, or not just the international department, that wants this work or needs this work. It’s for the whole institution.
[00:09:59] And, ultimately, my hope is that every person that has shared their perspectives throughout the consultation process and the project, really will see themselves within the internationalization strategy when we do have that completed and launched that. I think that being – also, being inclusive is also particularly important when driving this type of change within any large organization, like a college or university, or within government, or any other similar body.
[00:10:30] In order to get that broad understanding and buy-in, it’s important to get that broad understanding and buy-in it’s important to be inclusive and ensure that people feel a part of this from Day 1 to the end of the project and ongoing. And I guess I’d say, too, just from my personal background, my education, being inclusive is personally very important to me, and I think we all have to carry that strong sense of humility, openness and a sense of humour, particularly, I think in today’s polarizing environment.
[00:11:06] And when we’re working on issues like internationalization, to be successful. I think that’s really important – inclusivity is such an important piece to that work.
Kimberly: Let’s go back to the theme of today’s episode. Do you think there’s interest from international students in learning more about different marginalized populations in Canada? For example, learning about Black history?
Richard: [00:11:34] Absolutely. I absolutely do think there’s that interest there. You know, many of our international students, not unlike all other institutions across the country, these students, a lot of them want to build their lives here in Canada, and often within the campus communities that they arrive here to study in.
[00:11:59] But I think that said I think we as institutions need to continue to find ways of making this type of learning easier for international students. And also at the same time to be more accessible, or as accessible as possible. But at the same time, continue to intentionally build up our broader efforts related to equity, diversity and inclusion and make actively learning about diverse communities for all students easier and more accessible.
[00:12:31] Because I think it’s also, you know, equally important for all students to be taking an active interest in diverse groups and marginalized groups within Canadian society. And I think if we continue to build that capacity up for all students, while also taking maybe a unique lens on looking at how international students’ perspectives might be different and how to effectively include them in those conversations.
[00:13:02] In my view, too, all of this work is really interconnected to the well-being of all of us. So our students’ personal and professional success. And I think, too, it’s related to the overarching health of our employees, our campuses and the sustainability and prosperity of our campus communities. because for smaller communities, like Cornwall, like Brockville, like Kingston, it’s a great opportunity to welcome these students with open arms and hope that they might choose our communities to build their lives, here, and to be filling those jobs that we may need to be filled that can’t be filled from current people within the community. So I think it’s a really important piece to that.
Kimberly: Thank you very much. Would you like to add anything before we move on to our next guest?
Richard: [00:13:59] I think that maybe just to close that off I think, you know, the example that you used about Black History Month, of course, being this month, being February, it’s such an important example to use. Black History in Canada was really – it was introduced by a former member of Parliament. That was the Honourable Jean Augustine. And she was, of course, the first Black Canadian woman elected to the House of Commons.
[00:14:27] And when I was thinking about this question and how it relates to this project, the quote that I think is so significant is that Black History is not just for black people. Black History is Canadian history. And I think that it’s such an important quote and that it’s also not only particular to Black History month but it’s also has transferrable strength, too, related to internationalization in that you could say – and maybe this is a stretch – but that internationalization is not just for international students.
[00:14:59] And oftentimes that’s what people equate with internationalization. But, rather, it’s also for everyone. It’s for our students, our employees, our communities. And for the country.
Kimberly: Thank you very much, Richard. I really appreciate having you in the CBIE podcast.
Richard: [00:15:15] Thank you. It’s such a pleasure. And anytime.
Kimberly: Our next guest is Joseph Mensah, a first generation African Canadian intellectual, born and raised post-colonial Ghana. He became a tenured Associate Professor at York in 2005, and a full Professor of Geography in 2010. His research interests are critical development theory, socio-spatial dialectics, globalization, religious transnationalism, cultural identity and research methods.
[00:15:46] He is the author of the well-received book, “Black Canadians: History, Experiences, Social Conditions,” published for Fernwood in 2002 and 2010.
Dr. Mensah, what does Black History Month mean to you as a Ghanaian Canadian?
Joseph: [00:16:02] As a Ghanaian Canadian, to me, Black History Month is just a way of recognition of the Black contribution to Canadian society. Not only a historic one, but also contemporary times what our Blacks contributed. So, as a Ghanaian Canadian this basically reinforces my attachment to the country, my sense of belonging, my sense of pride that I’m a Canadian.
Kimberly: We often hear the phrase “Black history is Canadian history.” What do you think people mean by that and what truth is there to it?
Joseph: [00:16:41] I think there is a lot of truth. It just so happens that when you say Black History, for the most part in North American countries people right away go to the US and talk about Black Americans. Many Canadians have no idea that the history of Blacks in Canada goes way back to the era of slavery. And the fact that even some Blacks were enslaved in Canada, many people don't know that.
[00:17:11] So Black History Month is an opportunity for people to learn about that, and more importantly the truth is that by identify it as black history, then you are more or less focusing on the contribution of blacks. Otherwise, as you know, history is written by those who are in positions of power. And if you leave them alone, then, of course, the Black History will pass through the cracks.
[00:17:38] But by identifying these days as black history, then, of course, we elevate the contribution of Black to the public. So I think there’s some truth to it, and it’s very useful, to be frank.
Kimberly: What can we gain by sharing early and recent Canadian black history with international students, and what do you think would be the best way to go about this?
Joseph: [00:18:00] If you are a student and get to Canada, and learn about black history, I think it is important. What do we gain? At the very least, it’s knowledge. Many people, especially from, say Germany, or from say Japan or from Europe, they have no idea Canada will have any Blacks, here. So they have to get this knowledge. And of course, where they are coming from, from Japan or even Eastern Europe, or Russia, Blacks are not treated the way they are treated in Canada. Blacks have a space in Canada, more than they have.
[00:18:36] Something from the way Canada relates to the Black population and in Canada the Black population is far more entrenched. Some come and see Black people on TV and all this and they are surprised. So in terms of cosmopolitanism, I think it enhances their own knowledge and their own world outlook about how Canada, of course, we are living up to our identity as multicultural country, or a country of immigrants – a country of diversity. At least they will learn from that. So, I think it feeds into our genuineness of the Canadian culture, which the foreign students will learn from this.
[00:19:18] And, of course, if you are a Black student, then this also elevate your own sense of attachment to Canada. That you come from a city, Nigeria, and you’re celebrating Black History and can find space within it to contribute, to know about it. And of course, it boosts your own sense of – your image and sense of pride.
[00:19:42] The best way to approach this, of course, if there are students coming, most of this programming can be done through the orientation. You can have some Black student, or Black faculty member, talk to the groups that is coming – the incoming students. That would be very important, as far as some of the Black community leaders can be brought to campus to talk to them in terms of their orientation.
[00:20:11] And it won’t hurt to even organize a field trip for the new students to get see Africville and Halifax. Just some field trip for them to familiarize themselves with the Black population. I think these are some of the ideas or ways that you can basically share Black History for incoming students.
Kimberly: For the Canadian Bureau of International Education, inclusive internationalization aims to educate students as global citizens. In your opinion, how does teaching and celebrating Black History fit into inclusive internationalization?
Joseph [00:20:52] What it is, is this. Globally, there is a power hierarchy. Nobody can deny this. Africans, especially, and of course Africans in their ancestral homes of Blacks. Economically, it’s not doing well. Many people have all these stereotypical images, myths about Africa. So, if you really want to assert inclusiveness, there’s no better way to do it than to look at people who are looked down upon. People who are more or less deprived. People without power.
[00:21:33] So if you want inclusiveness, those in power they already included by default. They are society, okay? By bringing or highlighting Black History and, of course, not only black – the moment you highlight any depressed community or minority, it could be even any of the groups, like Aboriginals, or even women. The moment you highlight their events, the moment you bring them into the loop, then more or less you are asserting inclusiveness.
[00:22:06] So I think Black History is very, very important to look at if you really want to profile inclusiveness. Because for the most part, they are people who are coming from far away, people who are deprived, and they are coming from hot climate to a cold climate and we shouldn't give them a cold shoulder. And so it’s a good thing to do. And, of course, not only for Black but any other minority groups, too.
Kimberly: What would you like to say to our listeners before I move on to our next guest?
Joseph: [00:22:39] I would say remember Blacks have contributed a lot to Canada. I think with Black History Month opportunity to learn about that and to appreciate that. And if you have Blacks among them, and if you just get closer. Racial tension happens when people don’t get to know other people. The moment you get closer to people, you realize that, hey, we are all basically the same, really. So all I would say is that people to have this idea of getting closer to learn about people, get to know people before you even make any judgement.
Kimberly: Thank you very much, Dr. Mensah. I learned a lot by having this conversation with you. Thank you.
Joseph: Thank you, too.
Kimberly: Born in Cameroon and a graduate of the University of Calgary, Dr. Samou is assistant professor of Francophone and Intercultural Studies at the Department of Modern Languages and Classics of Saint Mary’s University. He recently launched a new book, “African Cultural Production and the Rhetoric of Humanism,” which he co-edited with the late Dr. Lifongo Vetinde of Lawrence University.
[00:23:51] Since February is African Heritage Month in Nova Scotia, that’s what we’ll be referring to in our interview with Dr. Samou. What does African Heritage Month mean to you as a Cameroonian Canadian?
Jean-Blaise: [00:24:04] Well, Kimberly, seeing how Canadian institutions celebrate Black History Month increases my sense of belonging to this great nation. To me, it’s a sign of respect for my cultural identity. It’s a sign of recognition of my own cultural values. Also, it increases my sense of inclusion and support for further achievement.
[00:24:39] However, I would like to – I should regret the fact that the Black History Month tends to become I would say a folkloric observation, which means a month during which people acknowledge the contributions of African people and our common heritage. But in the meantime, some incidents with, you know, racial incidents tend to highlight the fact that in the meantime the humanity of Black citizens around is not well accepted.
[00:25:26] So this seems to be a pattern. So Black History Month is a time to not only celebrate, but also to remind people of these problems that challenge our claims of diversity and inclusion. And that’s why it’s very important for me.
Kimberly: And in celebration of African Heritage Month, you are currently organizing in your film festival at St. Mary’s University. What inspired you to put together this event for your community?
Jean-Blaise: [00:26:03] Well, thank you. You know, St. Mary’s University celebrates Black History Month in numerous original ways. And this year’s edition includes, for example, art exhibitions, panel discussions, poetry slams and other film screenings. One of the recurring themes in these activities revolves around social justice.
[00:26:30] To me, without losing sight of that very important aspect of Black lives, I wanted to focus this mini film festival on prominent African figures beyond people like Martin Luther King, or Rosa Parks, that we immediately think of when we hear Black History Month. So this film festival focuses on other historical figures whose lives reveal distinctive accomplishments.
[00:27:03] The objective is not only to provide different perspective on Black History, Black experiences. But also to uncover the innumerable figures of African descent that we don’t always hear of.
Kimberly: You advocate for the celebration of African heritage traced to it roots. Why do you think it’s important to also look outside of the diaspora when celebrating African heritage?
Jean-Blaise: [00:27:33] Well, yeah, you know, the initial motive behind the Black History Month, as President Gerald Ford, in 1976, put it, was to – and I quote him. Was to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout the history of the United States.
[00:27:57] However, this formulation ignores the connection between African diaspora and their ancestry, as if, we could say, as if African Americans, or the African diaspora, in general, was a spontaneous generation that is capable of achieving good things only because we were transplanted to the American soil or in other places in the world.
[00:28:27] In doing so, we unconsciously buy into the idea that the history of these brave men and women started in America after slavery. But we should not overlook the fact that Black people’s history actually started in Africa. Nor should we overlook the African continent’s contribution to the history of the world.
[00:28:57] And so that’s why this film festival aims at tracing the celebration of the achievements of Black people outside of Africa and what Africa is also contributing or has contributed to the history of the world. It’s a shift in perspective.
Kimberly: We’ve established pretty clear in this episode that African heritage fits well under the concept of inclusive internationalization. How can specificity of experience encompassed within Black history and African heritage enrich our perspective in the broader scope of internationalization?
Jean-Blaise: [00:29:50] That’s a very interesting question. You know, the very concept of inclusive internationalization presupposes that we build intercultural skills for domestic and international students to collaborate harmoniously. However, the higher education in US and Canada is faced with one major paradox. The paradox is that institution may be striving to increase internationalization and global engagement, while in the meantime isolationist and nationalist trends in many countries, including the U.S. and Canada, of course, result in disconnection between local and global.
[00:30:36] Internationalization, from my view, should achieve awareness that all students on all campuses must be engaged in this agenda to better prepare for their future lives as citizens of the world. The success of this vision depends on how well higher education institutions integrate local, international, and intercultural perspectives in the delivery of their educational mission.
[00:31:09] In this regard, the more students of diverse backgrounds know about each other’s history and culture, the easier it will be for them to accommodate their cultures. And here’s where a film festival like this one operates. Because it enables people from various backgrounds to know more about each other’s history, each other’s past and better understand each other and collaborate in a more harmonious way.
Kimberly: What can we gain by sharing early and recent Canadian Black History with international students? And what do you think would be the best way to go about this?
Jean-Blaise: [00:31:55] I will answer that question starting with the second aspect of it. First of all, I will say it’s very important to teach African history in schools, and especially not the African history that resulted from the dominant perspective but also alternative views on African history. I would even say not just African history but global history. Because as we live with people from all over the world, people need to know about each other’s past, as I already said.
[00:32:45] We just mentioned the concept of inclusive internationalization. You know, even international students of African descent don’t always know about the history of Africa. And they also need to know more about other people’s history. And so I think that’s why it is very important for our students, and especially for international students on our campuses to gain that – to have knowledge of that history.
Kimberly: Would you like to add anything before we move on to our next guest?
Jean-Blaise: [00:33:31] Well, I will say thank you very much for reaching out to me on this special occasion and I would encourage everybody to actually learn more about each other to better know who we are, where we came from and how we can actually collaborate in a harmonious way.
Kimberly: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure talking with you.
Jean-Blaise: Yeah. I’m the one to thank you.
Kimberly: I am very honored to welcome Clémence Mugabo and Laure Ngarambe in the studio with me. They recently launched the first international students’ association of University of Ottawa. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the student association.
Clémence: [00:34:22] Thank you for having us, Kim. My name is Clémence Mugabo, as you mentioned. I am a fourth-year student in International Economics and Development, and I am the co-founder and president of the International Student Association.
Laure: [00:34:37] Hi. Thank you, again, for having us. My name is Laure and I’m a fourth year student at the Ottawa U in Economics and Mathematics, and I’m the co-founder and the VP of the International Student Association of the University of Ottawa.
Kimberly: What made you choose Canada as your study destination?
Clémence: Oh, well, It’s a funny story because I did not expect to come to Canada at all. I did not know anybody and I was thinking that this country is cold. I was also looking at other options, Europe or the United States. But Laure, right here, mentioned Canada because she was also considering to apply. And she said, you know what? You should try. And I looked at the University of Ottawa because it was bilingual and they had the program that I wanted. So I just applied. I got in and in just a few months I found myself in Canada.
Kimberly: And, Laure, what made you choose Canada?
Laure: [00:35:39] Well, it was more of a childish choice because my brother was already here and I wanted to do the same thing as him. So I chose Canada because – also because during my high school I was in the French system, and I didn’t want to do the same thing. But at the same time I wanted to keep my studies in French. So, you know, the languages in Canada attracted me and I was like, “Let’s go with Canada.”
Kimberly: What inspired you to start the International Student Association?
Laure: [00:36:09] Well, it all started last year, in February, actually. There was the International Week at school, and then it was a whole week of performances and tabling in the UCU at university, where different cultural clubs came and then they showed their cultures and everything.
[00:36:31] And then one night we were talking with Clémence. Talking about how there’s not a real representation of all of that on the campus and that it is something really important to have there. And we were also talking about how we as international students go to school and then we learn so many things from Ottawa U, but in terms of heritage, why do we live there? Like what is our place, there? So that’s how we came – when we were discussing it.
Clémence: [00:36:57] Yeah, absolutely. So, for me it came from the fact that I used to work at the University. So I was a student mentor, there, and I was also working on the students in housing. So I was a community advisor. So I really had that relationship with students and I would see that with international students some of them were lacking information about what’s available for them on campus. There was also the fact that I noticed that we came to study at U Ottawa and some of them were doing great in class.
[00:37:32] But outside of class, we did not have a lot of international students involved in off-campus activities, extracurriculars, or just didn’t know or didn’t feel like they were part of it. So, for me, the rationale was to bring that sense of “I belong here,” and kind of bring the student organization – by students, for students, organizing events. Because we do have resources for international students.
[00:38:00] We have different campus or university services. But we were really lacking that student initiative. And I thought that having that at the University of Ottawa would have been an amazing – it’s an amazing opportunity for new students to come to meet with other international students. When I studied before global citizenship, I thought that it was such an amazing opportunity to have international students on campus from all over the world, like Laure was mentioning. So how can we use all of that diversity to further our learning experiences as international student, but also share that with non-international students.
Kimberly: And the fact that it’s by students, for students, is so important.
Clémence: [00:38:46] Exactly. Because I think for us as international students, or students, in general, if I do an activity as a student I have that perspective and I have an understanding of, you know, what kind of activities will attract more students. Because I’m a student, I understand that reality.
Kimberly: What does Black History Month mean to you?
Laure: [00:39:14] Well, just a little bit of context. Before coming to Canada as a Black international student I didn’t really realize that I am Black. Because we are in a country where everybody is Black so you don’t think about the fact that you’re Black. And then you get here and you’re like, “Oh my God. There’s Black and there’s white.” And then you’re just like, “Oh, there’s a different history. There’s a different way how people do things,” and you just feel like you need to learn so many things.
[00:39:48] And so that’s where I discovered that there was actually a Black History Month and my whole life changed because even back when we learned about history in my head is that we learned about history, from this country, we just learned about the white perspective. So it is really important for Black international students to learn about the history.
[00:40:14] Because if we’re coming here and we’re thinking about doing our lives, here, we got to find a way to relate to people like us. And I feel like that is very important.
Clémence: [00:40:14] For me, Black History Month, like Laure was mentioning, in my country, on Rwanda, let’s say we don't have a Black History Month because everybody looks the same. And so when you get here and you realize, oh, I’m from African descent. I belong to a community here and I was really happy and welcomed by this community, the Black community in Canada.
[00:40:51] It’s important for us to identify to them and to celebrate this month with them because we look like them. And we’re happy to do that. But on the other side, as an international student here, it’s about learning a different side of Canadian history. For us, we have learned about Canada and we know about, you know, most of the students who choose Canada did their research about Canada.
[00:41:19] And there’s this story that is out there that they know. But we don't know about Black History Month. We don't know about what Black Canadians have done. So when you get here it’s about learning that information and for students from all over the world. It’s about, also, what are we going to do with this information? Learning that these initiatives were created by Black people, in the past, but this is also what’s being done in the present.
[00:41:47] I think it’s amazing for us if we learn that and take it back to our countries, bring it there. This understanding of inclusivity and celebrating diversity the way it’s done here in Canada, I think it’s a great example and it’s something great that we can learn and take back to our countries or stay with it here.
[00:42:11] I think it’s really important because we are seeing that it’s Black History Month not only for black Canadians but also for all Canadians. So it’s really important for us to celebrate that.
Kimberly: We’ve established throughout the podcast the relevance of teaching and celebrating Canadian Black History with international students. What do you think would be the best way to go about this?
Clémence: [00:42:35] I think the best way would be I would say it’s an approach that is – that includes everybody. Especially for students I would say the best way to a person would be something that is experiential. How do you learn about Black History Month by exploring I would say different domains?
[00:43:03] I would say, yes, there is information, but there’s also something that I personally felt attracted to was the culture. So dancing, food, all these fun and artistic ways can play into, you know, including international students in celebrating Black History month because it’s fun, but also at the same time you learn about history. But I also say, in the beginning, when we arrive, we don't have much information about, you know, a lot of guidance, in terms of this is where you’re doing – this is Canada. So I think when they’re presenting that information to us, they should also include Black History Month.
[00:43:45] As an association, on ourselves, too, I think, it would be interesting for us to propose initiatives to celebrate Black History Month from an international students’ perspective because that would be very interesting for us to share with the campus.
Kimberly: I’m really looking forward to hearing what you guys put together next year. What would you like to say to our listeners before we wrap up?
Clémence: [00:44:10] I would say that we’re really happy to be here. Thank you for giving us that opportunity to listen to us. Thank you.
Laure: [00:44:20] Also, that we as the International Student Association of the Ottawa U, we are welcoming every international student and non-international student to go follow us on the IG page. Because we have so many events and we are looking for students to come help us and bring the diversity on campus.
Kimberly: All right, listen to her and go follow the association in Instagram.
Laure: [00:44:45] Yeah. It’s uoisa.
Kimberly: Thank you very much. it was a pleasure to have you.
Clémence: Thank you so much for having us.
Laure: Thank you.
Kimberly: That’s it for this week. Thank you for joining us. Be sure to subscribe to the CBIE podcast so you don't miss our next episode.
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