Walking Through a Rainbow Bridge

By: Jill Xu

I am a current Queen’s MBA student from China. I am also a mother of a 20-month-old girl. It is the first time for me to live in another country and I plan to work in Canada after graduation. This is my Canadian dream—I hope my daughter could grow up in Canada and I want to be a mother of whom my daughter could be proud. It’s easier said than done. Before I came here, I was really worried about the intensive courses of the MBA program because I have been out of school for so many years and I seldomly spoke English.

Can I adapt to the new life? Can I communicate well with new classmates from different countries? Can I catch up with the lessons?

When I was frustrated, the Pre-MBA QBridge Program came into my sight. This two-month program with small classes and experiential learning were attractive for me. Two months prior to the MBA program, which starts in January, I came to Queen’s to begin the Pre-MBA QBridge program at Queen’s School of English.

If you ask me to describe the program, I would say it’s my rainbow bridge.

blog pic

For the first several days, I dared to talk to anyone. I was nervous when I went to the grocery store because I was not sure whether I could understand what the tellers were saying. In China, we usually buy live fish for cooking, but when I came here I never went to buy live fish because I had to talk to the sellers. Making a phone call was even more difficult. I made no phone calls in the first several weeks.

I have to say that the QBridge program saved me. Everyday during the morning sessions, we spent half an hour reading the Globe and Mail newspaper. Our writing teacher, Susan, explained some political, economic and cultural news to us.  Sometimes we watched videos from TED Talks. The knowledge I gained from the newspapers and videos has proven to be very useful in my latter MBA program. Now if I want to start a conversation with teachers or classmates, I have many topics to talk about: the revenue-split policy of Harper’s government, the slumping oil prices and traditional Canadian food. In some of the MBA courses, professors often assign some reading materials or videos from Globe and Mail or TED Talks. The reading and listening in QBridge was a good start for me.

During the QBridge program, we had an experiential learning once a week. We had a conversation with a local business owner, a portfolio manager and a customer manager at Scotiabank. We also joined the Christmas party of Chamber of Commerce, the established meeting of disability organization in Kingston, and the ceremony for the Memorial Day. During this process, we had a chance to better understand the culture and the business world of Canada, and to learn communication and networking skills that are essential for MBA students.

In the last week of the program, teachers and students brought food of their own countries and enjoyed an international potluck lunch together.

For me, the Pre-MBA QBridge Program is not just a language program, but a warm-up program for my MBA.  I feel very lucky to have been enrolled in this program because when the MBA program started, I had no time to learn the language or to adapt to its fast pace, but only to work hard on all the papers, team projects and different assignments.

Today is the 100th day I have been at Queen’s. I like talking to my wonderful classmates from Canada, India, Africa and Brazil. I have made several complaint calls to my internet providers and I often go to grocery store and I buy live fish for cooking. Although it’s cold in Kingston now, I can still feel the warmth and colorful lights of the rainbow of the Pre-MBA QBridge Program. I’ve gone through the rain days and now I am walking to my dream.

Being a Homestay Host

By: Karen and Glen (Homestay Hosts for QSoE)

A number of years ago our oldest son was heading off to university, so we had an extra bedroom and a little space and time in our life.  We knew of other people who hosted international students.  Since I worked at the Limestone District School Board I made a call about having a student for a short time.  They checked us and placed a grade 6 boy from South Korea in our home.  That was the beginning of our 10-year adventure with students, male and female, from South Korea, China, Spain, France, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Quebec and Japan.

One of our earliest students, a 17-year old girl from China, worked very hard to be
accepted into Electrical and Computer Engineering program at one of the top universities in Canada.  She got a job with OPG, where she has been working for a few years now. We have kept in touch with her and were honoured to be at her wedding. We are now waiting to hear of the birth of her first child.  How quickly time goes by!

homestay blog pic 2 v2We have so many wonderful memories and are looking forward to making more. Currently, all three of our own children have flown the nest, so during the Fall term we had three students, two from Japan and one from China.  Each day we heard their English improving and their comfort with the language and our culture growing.

Over the years it has been such a pleasure to participate in the sharing of cultures and watching students come to understand the difference between the politics of a country and the person of a country.  They soon learn that political differences mean nothing when you are picking apples, shopping, or enjoying a meal together.

Homestay blog pic 1

Every day we feel fortunate to share our home with these amazing students.

Studying at Queen’s University under the Science Without Borders Scholarship

By: Priscila Yokoya

My name is Priscila and I’m an exchange student from São Paulo, Brazil, with a federal scholarship program called Science without Borders or, in Portuguese, Ciência sem Fronteiras. Now, I’m attending courses in the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Department (3rd year), but in Winter 2014 I had the amazing opportunity of learning English at Queen’s School of English (QSoE).

I was enrolled in the English 2014-01-28 12.31.44for Academic Purposes program and I had the chance to get to know people from different countries, consequently with different cultures, and at the same time improve my grammar, vocabulary, listening and speaking. More than that, we were encouraged to work on papers related to your field of study, to make us more comfortable researching, reading and understanding them.

My session at QSoE was really special because not only my English got better but also I made many friends and had great teachers to guide me and to encourage me to study hard.

Although I am really enjoying my experience here in Canada and my courses at Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University, I have to say that I miss QSoE!

Hope you guys enjoy your studies and have a lot of fun at QSoE!

2014-04-18 16.31.42 HDR

Socio-Cultural Fun with Sarah

Hello QSoE! My name is Sarah and I am a 3rd year Queen’s University Bachelor of Commerce student. I work at Queen’s School of English (QSoE) as a socio-cultural monitor. In my position as a socio-cultural monitor I lead activities for students, accompany groups on trips and facilitate discussion classes. I love being a socio-cultural monitor for many reasons:

1Socio-cultural activities are so much fun to lead. They provide me with an opportunity to build friendships with the QSoE students. Students also benefit from socio-cultural activities because they can practice their English, meet Queen’s students and learn new Canadian games and activities.

10421431_747471278625279_8651047625812489446_nI enjoy accompanying QSoE students on weekend trips. Each group of students makes every trip exciting for me. Our students often visit Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa and Montreal while they are studying with us. We go on many adventures during our trips, such as the Maid of the Mist and the CN Tower.

3Leading discussion classes is also a great experience. I always become good friends with many of the students in my discussion classes. Discussion classes provide students with an opportunity to have guided English conversations in a relaxed setting.

Learn more about our socio-cultural program and check out our activities calendar: http://queensu.ca/qsoe/activities.

International Students Raise Funds for a Local Charity

Every session our student government leads a candygram fundraiser. Our student government is made up of a group of volunteers; typically there is one representative from each class. Not only is it nice to send a candygram to classmates, staff and teachers, but all of the money that is raised is donated to a local charity. The local charity is selected by the student representative of the class that raises the most money.

This summer our students raised a total of $370.00 Canadian dollars. The largest contribution came from class ESLA150 GL of our English for Academic Purposes Program. At our graduation ceremony the student representative from class GL, Tomo, gave a speech about the organization the money was donated to, Mothers Helping Mothers:

GL

Our Candygram fundraiser was successful yet again raising $370.00.  The class that sold the most was class GL and they have chosen to donate the money raised to an organization called Mothers Helping Mothers. 

This not-for-profit organization has been providing basic necessities such as clothing and baby items free of charge to families in need. All items are donated or purchased through grant funding or private contributions such as ours. Additionally, they offer emotional support and referrals to other agencies in the surrounding area.

For over twenty years, Mothers Helping Mothers has been run by volunteers and has helped over 6,000 families yearly, which represents almost 10,000 children, and the need continues to grow. They exist because of the generosity within the community, which now includes you.  Thank you to everyone for your donations and always remember that anything you do or give really does make a difference.