MHC making use of GSO funding

A few years ago, Medicine Hat College saw there was a call for Global Skilled Opportunities funding and put in three different applications. The first one was for an Indigenous culture experience in New Zealand. Unfortunately, due to COVID, they were unable to make the trip. Next month, MHC has seven students and one staff member going on a one-week trip to Costa Rica.

“That’s how Costa Rica came about,” explained Holly Cavanagh, student services coordinator of global engagement at MHC. “We wanted to use the funding toward a different experience that was similar. We got in contact with Global Learning Programs in Costa Rica and they created this program for MHC off the backbone of it being an Indigenous inclusive program.”

During the summer of 2022, MHC used part of the GSO funding to send four individuals to South Korea.

“Their experience wasn’t an Indigenous experience it was just for them to go study abroad and obtain intercultural competencies,” stated Cavanagh.

Some of the students had never been abroad before and immersing themselves in the experience was life changing. While there they learned some Korean and did lots of sightseeing in order to gain an understanding of the culture.

The students found the experience invaluable. When they returned each had a re-entry debriefing with Cavanagh and that’s when they let her know how much they loved the trip.

“They learned lots about themselves,” said Cavanagh. “The cultural aspects but also about their independence and their ability to travel to a different country and be able to problem solve while there.”

MHC wants to use the GSO funding to send minority individuals abroad.

“Much of the time for students to go study abroad, they must have lots of money,” she said. “The GSO funding pays for flights, accommodation, program fees and most of the food while they are there.”

This means the financial burden is minimal. The group going to Costa Rica only have to pay for four meals during the week and they also have to provide their own pocket money.

MHC used a three-stage priority listing for choosing individuals to go on the trip. The first was Indigenous students, second was those with mobility or disability issues and the final was financial aid.

With financial aid, students going on the trip are also completing an Intercultural Awareness Certificate, which bolstered their applications and moved them closer to the top of the list as they will receive accreditation out of it.

“It’s trying to ensure when it comes to truth and reconciliation, we need to relearn what we’ve learned because we haven’t learned the right stuff in the past,” explained Cavanagh.

“Trying to make everyone aware of what is happening, especially with those in the education program. We’re hoping they can bring their understanding and learning from both aspects, the similarities and differences, so they can put that into their classrooms. To teach children at a young age and also allow them to understand the cultural differences in the classroom and how there is lots of misunderstanding and barriers that are happening even at a young age. It’s about moving forward so we have inclusion.”

See tomorrow’s paper for interviews with three of students and a staff member going on the Costa Rica trip.

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News