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Final year students in the Atlantic Canada Study and Stay program gather for launch retreat
By Zhishun Xu
Special to The Guardian
STANLEY BRIDGE, P.E.I. - Forty international students from UPEI and Holland College considered what a future in P.E.I. would be like at a recent retreat as part of the Atlantic Canada Study and Stay program.
The retreat, which took place Oct. 26-28 at Stanley Bridge Resort, included group activities, workshops, immigration resources and mentorship orientation.
Chantal Brine, the CEO of En Point and a former international student, was one of the presenters on the weekend. En Point is the labour market partner for the Atlantic Canada Study and Stay program and provides job search, career building and networking training to the program’s participants.
“The cool thing about this program, from my viewpoint as a formal international student, was there was no program like this,” Brine said. “We are surrounding the (students) with community members, with employers, with supports and resources around their job search for a full 10 months.”
As well as student-to-mentors (S2M) mentorship orientation, the Study and Stay program provided cultural and social adaptation lessons to the students.
Arantxa Clarke, 23, a Holland College tourism and travel management student from Jamaica, said the biggest takeaway from this retreat was learning about professional networking and building confidence step by step.
She also appreciated that the mentorship comes from someone who was also an international student.
“I appreciate the fact that (Brine) was once an international student herself, so she’s able to relate to us and to understand where we come from. I appreciate the study and stay team for helping us to transition to our professional life.”
- Arantxa Clarke
“I appreciate the fact that (Brine) was once an international student herself, so she’s able to relate to us and to understand where we come from,” she said. “I appreciate the study and stay team for helping us to transition to our professional life.”
The study and stay program also invited employees from the Rural Economic Development department to the retreat, as well as Amie Swallow Macdonald, director of rural and regional development, and Giselle Bernard, community development officer, to talk about local life of P.E.I. As well, students took part in a pumpkin-carving contest and played board games during the retreat.
“This program is modelled after EduNova (Stay in Nova Scotia program) and was so successful that we expanded that program to the other regions of Atlantic Canada,” said Sherilyn Acorn-LeClair, the manager of the office of Study Abroad and International Collaboration at UPEI.
P.E.I.’s Workforce and Advanced Learning Minister Sonny Gallant also addressed the students, encouraging them to learn more about P.E.I. and consider making P.E.I. home after graduation.
“I left in 1976 at a high school and went to Alberta, stayed about three months, got homesick and came back, never left again, except for vacations,” he said. “I went to Mexico and (a) few different places, but P.E.I. is home.”
Clarke said, even though it’s just beginning, she thinks the program will be worthwhile for her.
“I definitely would recommend to the future students. It would benefit them as well.”