King's Students lead Caribbean Students Organization
April 1, 2015
Lisa Michienzi, Intern, Communications & Media Relations
For many students choosing to study abroad, the move to Canada can be a bit of a challenge. Not only are they in a new place and a new country, but international students are also surrounded by many cultural ideals that are very different from those of home.
At King’s the goal is to be able to make the transition of studying on our campus easier by promoting multiculturalism and diversity on campus through cultural events, clubs and organizations.
King’s is home to a large international community, with 513 students coming from 25 countries to receive a world-class education.
International students benefit our community by studying here as they bring with them their wonderful culture and traditions, and share that knowledge with our community, making the King’s culture one of rich diversity.
One of the largest clubs on Western’s campus, the Caribbean Students Organization (CSO) is very active in showcasing Caribbean culture to the London community. The club has a strong presence at King’s and plays a vital role in the campus community.
King’s third year student in Business Management and Organizational Studies (BMOS) and Vice President of Finance for the CSO Rena Mortimer, says that the club “represents a home away from home for Caribbean students.”
“Our main goal is to be a hub for awareness and education on campus of Caribbean culture and we also strive to showcase our culture in the wider London community,” says Mortimer.
A number of events are planned by the club each year to accomplish this goal, with the club hosting lectures and fashion shows, and participating in Cultural Fests on campus, including the King’s Cultural Festival, and other festivals hosted independently.
A big component of the clubs efforts to showcase their culture is also to raise awareness of issues in the Caribbean, and to support aid and charitable efforts there.
Most recently, the Caribbean Students Organization brought Stephanie Marley, daughter of renowned musician and activist the late Bob Marley, to campus to talk about humanitarian aid as part of their Culture show. Stephanie Marley is a Western alumna, and passionate about aid efforts, and reinforcing how important humanitarian efforts are in the global community. As Mortimer recounts “she was extremely inspiring and connected with all of the students and faculty present.” Her presentation was very engaging, and personalized, as she brought with her exclusive gifts from the House of Marley, and ensured all who attended left with a gift, a token of her appreciation for inviting her to speak.
The club knows the importance of what it is like to give back to the community.
The Caribbean Club works with an organization called the Backpack project, a not-for-profit organization centered in Toronto. The CSO donates a portion of their revenues to the Backpack project, which provides school supplies and personal hygiene products to children in low-income families living in Caribbean countries such as Guyana and Trinidad. The organization puts together pre-packaged backpacks containing items including books and stationary, as well as soap and deodorant.
“It is an organization truly close to the core of what CSO stands for,” says Mortimer, regarding the opportunity to educate the Western community about a charitable organization for Caribbean students.
The organization also provides low-income families with resources to help their children pursue higher education, and help break their family’s cycle of poverty.
Just as CSO students provide support for their communities back home, King’s is proud to provide encouragement and support for its international students on campus.
“It is truly amazing how supportive King’s has been to CSO. Coy Millett, the President who is from Bermuda, and I are both King’s students so to receive so much support from the King’s community has been incredible. It just has strengthened the fact that King’s is a real community,” says Mortimer.
That sense of community at King’s is something Mortimer felt from before her first day on campus. “King’s was the only school I applied to in Canada,” recalls Mortimer.
She remembers receiving a call from the Vice President of Enrolment Services, Marilyn Mason, who explained to her what King’s is like, and the kind of experience she could have attending the King’s campus.
“She really made me feel comfortable even though I had never visited Kings,” says Mortimer. It really stood out to the third year BMOS student how nice and helpful everyone was here, and influenced her decision to come to King’s.
“I don’t just like going to King’s. I love it. It’s my second home and the place where I have grown, not just academically but personally and spiritually. King’s faculty and staff are distinct from every other university’s and going to King’s is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,“ says Mortimer.
For more information about CSO, please visit the website www.westerncso.com, or their Facebook page www.facebook.com/WesternCSO.com. Any and all students in the wider Western community with and interest in or appreciation for Caribbean culture are encouraged to join.