Sept. 25, 2019

International summer students gain more than an academic experience

Four-week Calgary International Summer Program pilot welcomed Chinese students for education and recreation

Learning to swim for the very first time was not an outcome Canyu Zhao expected of her participation in the Calgary International Summer Program (CISP) at the University of Calgary.

Zhao was one of nine mechanical engineering students from Tianjin University who participated in the pilot program, a collaboration between the Schulich School of Engineering, Tianjin University School of Mechanical Engineering, Continuing Education and UCalgary Residence Services.

Zhao 's friends taught her to swim in the campus aquatic centre, during their free time between classes and studying.

  • Photo above: Schulich School of Engineering prof Ed Nowicki with CISP students in an engineering classroom. Photo courtesy Ed Nowicki

The four-week CISP program for international students includes an English training course taught by an English language specialist from Continuing Education and, this year, an introductory course on Energy and the Environment taught by faculty from the Schulich School of Engineering. It also includes excursions to the Royal Tyrrell Museum and optional overnight camping and rafting trips to Banff or Jasper.

International students on rafting excursion near Banff.

Some of the students took in a rafting excursion near Banff.

Yassin Boga, Continuing Education

Yassin Boga, associate director international at Continuing Education says, “The goal of this program is to engage international students from our partner universities with English, the campus community, and internationalization; to foster global citizenry and to develop existing and new collaborations.” 

The CISP students joined students in Continuing Education’s ESL Intensive Program for their English Communications class as well as their excursions. The experiences gave the students, from all parts of the world, an opportunity to improve their English language skills inside and outside the classroom

“I struggled with listening at the beginning of our English learning,” said Tianjin student Zhen Guo, “but now it is much easier to communicate with others in English.”

The Introduction to Energy and the Environment course was taught by Dr. Edwin Nowicki, PhD, and Dr. Ganesh H D Doluweerawatta Gamage, PhD.

For many in the cohort, it was the first time they had taken an academic course in their major taught in English. “It was difficult at first,” says Guo, “but it gave me a deeper understanding of the practical aspects of energy and the environment.”

Nowicki described the group as “gentle, inquisitive and kind” and was delighted with one student’s demonstration of her understanding of some of the course content. “She drew these incredibly detailed colour diagrams for the heat engines that I had asked the class to draw on a test,” he told us. “I thought it was marvelous artwork.”

Find out more about the Calgary International Summer Program.