International students and people who are a part of international networks of family and cultures are a great asset to Sheridan, according to Dr. Mike Allcott, Dean, International. “Holistic internationalization” is Sheridan’s next step toward deepening and broadening its commitment to developing global citizenship, and preparing all students to succeed in a globalized economy.
Holistic internationalization includes valuing international students for the strengths they bring to Sheridan, and providing services to ensure their learning success, Allcott says. It also means engaging the creativity of the entire institution to affirm international experience as a key means to building a more inclusive learning community.
Two initiatives—one institution-driven, and one student-driven—embodied this philosophy when Sheridan’s Chinese community celebrated Chinese New Year this year.
Sheridan’s International Centre celebrated the Year of the Dog with its annual Chinese New Year party at the Marquee pub at the Trafalgar Road Campus. Agnes Li, Assistant to the Dean, International, says the purpose of the celebration was three-fold: to help students feel at home at Sheridan; engage on campus; and demonstrate Sheridan’s commitment to its international students. “Chinese New Year is the most important festival of the year in China, and a time when families gather together. But students who are studying abroad here at Sheridan are far away from their families, and it can be a really hard time for them,” says Li.
The event included a buffet dinner, karaoke, lucky draws, paper cutting, as well as performances from students dressed in traditional Chinese costumes. Attendees also had the opportunity to watch a playback of the spring festival gala, which is normally broadcast on Chinese television on New Year’s Eve.
“We wanted to let the students know that the International Centre and Sheridan are thinking of them at this special time, and that they are part of the whole community, the Sheridan family,” says Li.
At the Hazel McCallion Campus (HMC), a group of seven Chinese Visual Merchandising Arts students collaborated to create a special Chinese New Year window at HMC’s new B-Wing, home to the Visual Merchandising Arts program. First-year student Disi Xu came up with the idea. “Sheridan hosts an event at Trafalgar, and I thought we should also do something special to celebrate Chinese New Year at HMC,” he says.
“We wanted to make Chinese students feel at home, and we wanted to represent our program, the Chinese students, and Sheridan College,” adds 2nd year Visual Merchandising Arts student, Junlin Chen.
When the students approached her with the idea for the window, Program Coordinator Louise Franklin enthusiastically agreed. “I thought it would be such a great collaborative project for the students, because they’re sharing their community with everybody else,” she says. “For the college community, I think it’s great to have international representation.”
The window spotlights important Chinese traditions, such as the lucky money bag and paper cutting, and also commemorates the Year of the Dog. “We look at the study of semiology in the Visual Merchandising Arts program; every item represented in a window display needs to have meaning,” says Franklin. “This window certainly reflects that.”
The two-sided window allowed spectators to view the window from both inside and outside the college. “We decorated this window on both sides not only for Sheridan College students, but also to share the Chinese New Year celebration with visitors to Sheridan, especially visitors to Square One,” says Xu. “There are a lot of visitors that pass by here. We wanted to represent Sheridan College and show that they respect different cultures at this college.”
The window display was so successful that instead of staying up for its scheduled three weeks, it remained for two months. “The biggest compliment to us is to see nose prints on the glass and if the window gets dirty sometimes, that’s a good thing. It tells us that the display installation is engaging viewers,” says Franklin.
Pictured at top of page – the Sheridan Visual Merchandising Arts student team behind the Chinese New Year window display at HMC (from left to right): Disi Xu, Liam Yang, Yifeng Yang, Qiulan Song, Junlin Chen, Tianyan Zhang. Not pictured: Qiantong Zhang.
Photos of Chinese New Year event at Trafalgar by Yuanchi (Leo) Wei, first year Honours Bachelor of Film and Television student. Photos of Visual Merchandising Arts window display and video editing by first year Visual Merchandising Arts student, Disi Xu.
Written by: Tina Dealwis, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan.