It’s no surprise that Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Simply by exploring the city of Toronto, you can savor the flavors of India, the Philippines, or Nigeria on a single street.
While on campus, you’re likely to interact with peers and professors from various ethnic backgrounds. Whether they’re Filipino, Brazilian, Caribbean, or Vietnamese, these diverse ethnicities – among many more – make up the populations of both Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber.
Although the campus boasts a multitude of ethnicities, Humber and UofGH celebrate this diversity through initiatives, clubs, and cultural hubs. Their goal is to foster an inclusive environment where students and staff alike feel a strong sense of belonging. And speaking of culture, did you know that there’s a Filipino club right on campus?
We got a chance to sit down and talk to the president of the club and ask her what it’s like to run a club on campus.
Charlotte is the president of the Filipino Club at the North campus. Currently, she is in her second year of the Biotechnology program. We interviewed Charlotte about her club, Filipino culture and the importance of representation on campus.
How would you describe the mission of your club? How do you see the club progressing within the next two years?
“Our club’s mission is to provide a space where Filipino and Non-Filipino students can meet, connect and share meaningful experiences. It is also our goal to foster community building among Humber students and create an environment where students can learn about the rich Filipino culture through music, art, and food. We recognize diversity in the college, and welcome all students who are interested in knowing more about Filipino culture.
“Within the next two years, I envision the club with more members participating and creating more impact on campus. By that time, our club would have more activities and events that cater to the interests of the members of our community.”
What are some events hosted by the club to embrace Filipino culture?
“Our culture and traditions inspire activities and events that the club hosts. Major events include Halloween, Christmas parties, and New Year celebrations. Other activities would be Filipino fiestas and karaoke nights.”
If students are interested in your club, how can they join?
“It’s easy! To join the club, students must complete the club registration form found in the bio section of our Instagram account. They can also send us a direct message and we’ll gladly send them the form.”
What’s one Filipino tradition most people aren’t aware of?
“The Philippines is predominantly a Catholic nation and showing respect to elders is a tradition in every Filipino family. This is by making the “pagmamano” gesture, where the elders lightly strike the young person’s forehead with his or her right hand. Typically, the elder would say “Kaawaan ka ng Diyos” which means “May God have mercy on you” or “May God bless you.”
With Canada being such a diverse country, why is it essential for people to embrace their culture?
“Being aware and respectful of the diversity creates a more peaceful and respectful relationship with others. It helps promote unity and understanding which has a great impact on one’s life. Being culturally sensitive makes it easier for people to build connections, recognize differences and have respect for one another.”
Do you believe more cultural clubs are needed on campus to promote a sense of belonging and community building?
“Yes, definitely. As an international student, being away from my home country is very challenging. Students need a safe space where they can find a community. It’s a fun experience to be able to share common interests and experiences with students who are familiar or speak the same language as you and can understand your background. Having a club heightens the experience of the students while they’re on campus and serves as an outlet for positive emotions, energy and talents.”
Cultural awareness and sensitivity
Cultural diversity enriches our campus, yet developing cultural sensitivity is crucial for effective communication. To interact respectfully and with an open mind regarding various cultural traditions, norms, and values, consider these tips:
- Recognize cultural differences: Learning to identify cultural distinctions is a vital step toward understanding diverse norms and beliefs.
- Acknowledge your biases: Recognize that your own culture influences your perspectives and personality. Never assume that others will think, work, or act as you do based solely on your own traditions and norms.
- Cultivate cultural competency: This process entails recognizing and embracing cultural differences. It’s a straightforward practice: engage in conversations with individuals from various cultural backgrounds and conduct thorough research.
Featured image via Unsplash
*This interview has been edited for clarity.*