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International Development and Culture Week at UTSC


by Francis Massé

The first annual International Development & Culture Week is being held at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) to raise awareness of international issues as well as highlighting diversity and culture.

This exciting campus event is being held from February 9 to 11, and features displays, movies, cultural events, and lectures. See the complete schedule by clicking here. Free fair trade coffee will be available on all three days from 12 noon to 3 p.m. in the Meetng Place for those carrying sustainable mugs. UTSC’s participation coincides with other events being celebrated across the country with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). While in keeping with the theme of the week, UTSC has also broadened the event to include not only international development issues but also cultural themes.

The joint theme and accompanying events provide greater opportunity for campus engagement, according to organizers. Partnering in the organization are the International Students Centre, the Department of Student Life, the Arts & Sciences Co-op Office, the Sustainability Office, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union and various campus clubs. For more information, visit the following web site:

“The diversity and scope of cultures on this campus is a point of pride for us, and we’re celebrating that diversity with a wide range of events,” said Joanna Ying, coordinator of international students and study abroad programs at UTSC. “The inclusive nature of the activities means that there is literally something for everyone.”

The goals of International Development & Culture Week are: to showcase international issues through concepts such as fair trade, global sustainability, and global health; to celebrate UTSC’s diverse culture; raise awareness of international development issues; to identify the impact UTSC has in Canada and abroad through the International Development Studies (IDS) program and the research and work of faculty; and to promote global citizenship.

“We have one of the best and most high-profile International Development Studies programs in the country, and so these activities are a great way to celebrate that,” says Katie Boomgaardt, IDS coordinator. “We also want to provide some education on development issues, since some students may come from countries where, for instance, concepts like fair trade are not yet well known, if at all.”

“This week is incredibly important because it gives students an opportunity to see how UTSC is connected to the greater community,” said Liz Lymburner, a second-year IDS co-op student focusing on health studies, who is also helping to organize the week’s events. “Having an understanding of international issues and how to better interact with different parts of the globe is essential for almost any discipline right now, and this week will help to engage students and inform them of what’ s going on around them.”

On Tuesday, February 9 at 12 noon, the week’s events kick off with guest speakers who will touch upon the importance of international development and culture and the important role UTSC has played and continues to play in these areas. Events will occur simultaneously in two areas on campus: the Student Centre and the Meeting Place, creating an atmosphere where the entire campus can be involved and able to participate in the week’s events.

Some highlights include a fun and interactive start to the week with games like Jeopardy (on a huge projector screen) and giant Scrabble, focusing on development themes as well as a photo exhibit and contest in the Student Centre. Photos of students, staff, faculty and community partners celebrating and showcasing travel, culture and overseas experience of the UTSC community will be on display in the Meeting Place.

Two fairs will be held on campus on Wednesday, February 10. The Student Centre will house the Clubs Fair, which highlights the range and activities of student clubs and associations related to international development and culture. At the same time, the Meeting Place will host local, national and international organizations and faculty members wishing to interact with students by sharing information about the work they do and how members of the UTSC community can get involved in issues of international development. The International Development & Culture Fair & Faculty Showcase will include displays by well-known and recognized organizations such as Free the Children, UNICEF, and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Alongside this, a guest speaker, Dr. Simon Carter of the International Development Research Centre, program manager for climate change adaptation in Africa, will discuss climate change and food security at 2 p.m. in S403.

The week will wrap up on Thursday, February 11 with a Lunar New Year celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a festive and fitting culmination. Cultural events and activities will be organized in collaboration with eight student clubs, and featuring the spectacular Lion Dance at 12 noon in the Meeting Place performed by the award-winning Sunny Tang Martial Arts group from the sports organization Wushu Canada. Customary Chinese dumplings, mandarin oranges and a variety of traditional candies will be distributed free in the Meeting Place.

Throughout the week, ongoing programs will be offered to raise awareness of important issues related to development and culture. Each afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m., a different movie related to development and culture will be screened in the Student Centre by UTSC’s local chapter of World University Service of Canada (WUSC) as part of the WUSC Hollywood Film Festival. Similarly, the important concepts of Fair Trade and sustainability will be presented weeklong as Fair Trade coffee and tea will be provided free in the Meeting Place to those with re-usable cups or mugs. Promotional material and information on Fair Trade and environmental sustainability will be available along with the fresh coffee and tea.

The first annual International Development & Culture Week is a truly collaborative effort that involves many members of UTSC’s community involved in global issues. The week promises to be interactive, informative and enjoyable and will mark the start of an annual tradition celebrating the importance of the role of the UTSC community in the areas of international development and cultural diversity. 

Francis Massé is a fifth-year student in the International Development Studies program at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

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