If students were expecting a hum drum day of speeches with bad coffee, they were pleasantly surprised. International Centre staff from Dalhousie, Mount Saint Vincent, Saint Mary’s, Kings College and the Nova Scotia Community College encouraged students to come down to meet our Mayor Mike Savage and they were treated to a warm Halifax welcome. Dalhousie hosted students at an ice cream social at their new building before escorting them down to the Mayor’s International Student Welcome. Though many were likely tired from a hectic week of orientation, the turn-out was incredible from all the schools and the room was comfortably packed.
When the band, Squid, hit the stage with their drums and bagpipes, you could see the jaws in the room drop. Students indulged in a delicious spread of sandwiches and sweets. Industry associations had booths set up with the goal of promoting Halifax as a welcoming, dynamic city and encouraging these first year international students to consider a career in Halifax upon graduation. Mayor Savage reminded students that even if they only stayed for four years, we are still greatly enriched by their presence and he hoped that some would decide to make Halifax their home.
University presidents and councillors helped give out dozens of donated door prizes. At one point, the presidents were hurling newly branded Halifax t-shirts into the crowd that garnered as much enthusiasm as if wedding bouquets were flying through the air. Students cheered like crazy and afterwards swarmed Mayor Savage to shake his hand, have a chat and pose for a photo to send home to their families.
Other attendees included: the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Halifax Libraries, Halifax Recycling, RBC, Bell Aliant, I LOVE LOCAL, Fusion Halifax, Destination Halifax, Digital Nova Scotia, Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia, Theatre Nova Scotia, Dance NS, Symphony NS and last but not least, Greater Halifax Partnership‘s Connector Program.
Students could see a diversity of career/business possibilities as they watched NSBI’s Get Momentum video about successful businesses thriving throughout the province. Equally important, was the opportunity for students to learn about our local community organizations that make our city special. The students could concretely see a way in engaging with Halifax on and off their campuses.
From the buzz, we are optimistic that this event could be a yearly tradition. Sponsors for this year were the City of Halifax, Emera, Bell Aliant, RBC and the Greater Halifax Partnership. A special thanks goes out to a wonderful organizing committee for bringing this event to fruition. Let’s keep this tradition going and continue to find other innovative ways to truly engage with local and international students in our workplaces and diverse communities.
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Denise is responsible for managing the Partnership's Connector Program which is funded under the Canada-Nova Scotia Labour Market Agreement.