It is no surprise that Sheridan’s international student community is growing at a rapid pace, with a booming presence of 2,500 students from over 70 countries who arrived at Sheridan during the past two terms alone. Every new international student stands to benefit from guidance and support; hence the concept of SISA was envisioned. Sheridan International Student Association or SISA is a growing effort by international students that aims to build a strong multicultural family within Sheridan. They work on bridging the gap that sometimes can exist between expectations of students and the Canadian reality. The association helps international students to meet and network with peers from different countries, professions and cultures – thereby broadening their personal outlook.
“SISA’s inception was the result of a growing need within the international students’ community to interact with one another, integrate into the Canadian Life, and simply have some fun” – Tanya Bihari
It all began in 2013, when Yan Wu and Anthony Vadakkanchery of Sheridan’s International Students’ Centre, along with Odecca Ordonez – a former Sheridan student, first perceived the need for a club that is a multicultural mélange. SISA’s first meeting took place with 15 eager members at the Hazel McCallion Campus at Mississauga in December 2013. Less than a year later, separate wings were initiated at the Davis campus in Brampton and the Trafalgar campus in Oakville. What started out as a small interactive group gathering, has turned into a successful committee with three separate chapters, executive members and a budding team of over 60 regular members.
“SISA’s inception was the result of a growing need within the international students’ community to interact with one another, integrate into the Canadian life, and simply have some fun,” says Tanya Bihari from New Zealand, the President of SISA’s Davis campus chapter and a 2nd year Finance student.
Most international students need the familiarity of a group to speak and hone their soft skills. With SISA they get the opportunity to speak, ask questions, plan and engage in activities.
Each SISA chapter develops their own activity agenda related to the nature and range of diversity in the group.
“At the HMC campus, SISA focuses on team-building and professional development, while at the Davis campus activities are centered around building confidence and collaborating with different clubs,” says Pooja Singh, International Student Coordinator at Sheridan’s International Centre.
In the past year, the association’s various chapters have organized potlucks, movie nights, cultural talent shows, team-building events, and thematic presentations by different members during sessions.
“Sheridan offers a lot of opportunities like SISA for the international student community to engage with one another, but more importantly, it is accepting and respectful of different cultures and customs of these students. This makes them feel at home” – Bianca Roco
“When I first came to Sheridan, I could not gather the confidence to speak in front of a large group. The activities and events organized during the association sessions motivated me to be comfortable speaking in English,” explains Mari Isogai from Japan, who is a Project Manager of SISA’s Davis campus chapter and a 2nd year Community and Justice Services student.
Going forward, SISA plans to collaborate with other associations like the Human Resources Club and the Faculty of Finance, to integrate the best of different disciplines into their team.
Bianca Roco, a 2nd year Bachelor of Illustration student, who is a coordinator of SISA’s Trafalgar chapter, believes, “Sheridan offers a lot of opportunities like SISA for the International student community to engage with one another, but more importantly, it is accepting and respecting of the different cultures and customs of these students. This makes them feel at home.”
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Written by: Vinaya Gopaal, Projects Coordinator in the International Office at Sheridan.