I remember preparing for my third year Anthropology class presentation, writing a 25 page term paper for my Classics course, and studying for three other courses, and all were all taking place in the same week. Ugh! They say university and college is great for teaching us time management, but I’d like to add that it is also great for teaching us how to stress out and throw dishes against the wall.
In researching this week’s blog post on study tips, I kept coming across the same advice. Study with a friend. Don’t procrastinate. Use a highlighter. Keep a log of difficult words and ideas. Quiz yourself. Divide your material into smaller, manageable chunks. These suggestions are very good. You’ve heard our teachers at CultureWorks give you the same advice a million times, so I don’t want to bore you with repetition. Luckily, I came across two videos that offer some different ideas about preparing for tests.
This video has a lot of strange ideas that are just weird enough to work. I definitely agree with listening to instrumental music while you study – music with lyrics are much too distracting.
This video offers excellent advice on setting a time limit when you are really concentrating. In our age of iPhones and universal internet access, this is a great skill to practice.
What do you love about birthdays? Is it the cake, or the gifts? I’m going to be totally honest with you here, and you might think I’m weird if you don’t already, but my favourite part of birthdays is hiding in the dark waiting to shout SURPRISE!!
That’s exactly what CultureWorks did this week! On July 1st it is CULTUREWORKS’ 15th BIRTHDAY!!! To mark the occasion we organized a reverse surprise party for all of our university partners. It was awesome! Even though it was our birthday, we planned a stealth, province-wide sneak attack on the very people who have helped our mighty school to blossom over the last decade and a half.
We decided to celebrate our birthday by giving gifts, rather than receiving them. We wanted to celebrate the gifts our partners have given us over the years. The gift of enthusiasm. The gift of opportunity. The gift of collaboration.
As the first and biggest of its kind in Canada, CultureWorks has grown to become Ontario’s premier ESL & EAP school. Founded by Tina Bax, President, CultureWorks started as one location with four students in 1998 and has grown to six partner schools in three cities with 525 students. Over 3,000 students from 26 countries around the world have studied at CultureWorks. What makes our school so unique and innovative, is that we were the first in the country to offer international students conditional acceptance to post-secondary institutions. It’s ground-breaking innovation in education, and our spectacular students are the proof!
And who doesn’t like a good surprise, right? I tell ya, our partners sure did! Check out these great shots from our cross-campus birthday party.
Q. The idiom ‘as cool as a cucumber’ is an appropriate one for you, Derek. You always look calm and collected, ready for your many responsibilities as Principal. Could you describe a few ways that you help students along their academic path?
A. A significant number of the students I see in my office come because of issues with their studies and their cultural experiences in Canada. My number one message to students is to stay focused on their purpose for studying at CultureWorks. At 19 or 20 years old, students are really in transition. They are learning about taking responsibility for their actions, accepting the consequences of those actions, and learning to reach out to resources on campus and in the community for other extra needs they may have. I reinforce our teacher’s work inside the classroom, and remind students to take charge of their life, inside and outside school. So I guess I am a little like their ‘Canadian parent’ to these students when they come to my office.
Q. You have a degree in Anthropology. What attracted you to this field? Are there aspects of our students’ cultures you would like Canada to adopt? Why?
A. I specialized in Social-Cultural Anthropology, which is the study of human culture – its development, its diversity, etc. I did not grow up in mainstream Canadian culture, so I was conscious of the influence of culture from an early age. When I studied Anthropology in first year university, I loved it, so I decided to major in it. My studies helped me a lot after university when I lived in Japan, and in my work at CultureWorks.
I think Canadians can learn from the cultures of our students, which often place more emphasis on the interests of the group. One thing that I’ve noticed among our students is that family is very important to them. They tend to be good at cooperating with one another. Family is also important to many Canadians too, but I think we may place too much emphasis on the individual.
Q. What is culture shock? Have you ever experienced it? Imagine a student is struggling with culture shock, what advice would you give him or her?
A. Culture shock is the discomfort, stress, or anxiety that results from living in a different culture. I definitely experienced it several times in Japan. I also experienced it when I first moved from my hometown to Toronto after high school. To deal with culture shock, it is important to deal with the stress. Do something that you enjoy. For me, it means playing music, going outside, exercising, or reading. It is also important to stay connected with people from your home culture. At the same time, it is important to reach out and try to learn about the new culture and make friends from that culture. These people will help you to understand the new culture. The key here is “learn”. This means you need to have an attitude of curiosity about the culture.
Q. Lastly, for fun, if you could have any Canadian celebrity over for dinner, who would you be? Why?
A. Bruce Cockburn. He’s still my favorite Canadian musician – colourful lyrics, challenging messages, and a great guitar player! Also someone who is interested in many cultures!