Students from Mexico are getting a small taste of what it means to be Canadian before starting their master’s programs in the fall.
A group of women from the State of Quintana Roo are spending a few weeks this summer in Lethbridge, Canada to learn more about Blackfoot and Canadian culture, as well as learning English to help them with their education goals. The program is part of a partnership with the Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo in Mexico.
Liz Martin, activity co-ordinator at the University of Lethbridge International Centre, said the students spend two weeks learning English in the morning and exploring the Canadian culture that Lethbridge and area has to offer.
“We’re trying to give them as much opportunity to learn about the culture of Canada as possible,” she said.
“We went to Waterton last weekend,” she added. “That was awesome. They got to see the mountains.”
The program is organized by the Council for Science and Technology in the State of Quintana Roo and funded by the National Council of Science and Technology of the United Mexican States.
Martin said the goal of the program is to expose the students to English culture and language before they enter their master’s programs. Additionally, the program bridges local indigenous culture and Mayan culture.
“They are Mayan women, and they are here studying our First Nations culture as well,” Martin said. “They find it really interesting.”
Martin said the culture of Lethbridge is enriched with the arrival of these groups, as the sharing of cultures also gives an opportunity for local residents to learn about Mayan life in Mexico.
Abelina Chan is a student from Mexico and said the trip to Canada has been an opportunity to meet new people in a new country for her, as well as gain valuable experience immersed in English culture.
“Visiting Canada is amazing,” she said. “The places are beautiful and the people are so kind.”
Fellow exchange student Marcia Castilla said the program was an opportunity for indigenous women to expand on the English classes they take in Mexico.
“Here, we have teachers who teach us about the culture of Canada,” she said. “We learned about Blackfoot indigenous people in Canada.”
Martin said she hopes the women visiting will remember the beauty of Western Canada when they return home. She also said she hopes they are able to retain some of their English lessons.
“Two weeks is a short amount of time,” she said. “But if they can bring a little bit of that back as well, that would be awesome.”
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