International Education Champion: Bob Barter

International Education Champion: Bob Barter, A.Y. Jackson S.S.
Posted on 09/01/2023

Bob Barter, Global Studies Department Head, A.Y.Jackson S.S.

Global Connections highlights individuals who have been key advocates and role models in supporting OCENET international students and/or the International Certificate Program.

What are some of your roles with international education initiatives at A.Y Jackson S.S.?

My main roles include serving as the International Certificate Program (ICP) Advisor and chairing our Exchanges & Trips Committee. This committee looks for opportunities for our students to have national and international learning experiences through travel to support curriculum goals. The aim with these trips and exchanges is to provide equitable access for all students as much as possible, with options for billeting with families on reciprocal exchanges to not only have a richer cultural experience, but also reduce costs.

How long have you been involved with supporting international programs?

I have been involved for more than 20 years, ever since I started teaching at A.Y. Jackson. In 2003, the school made a deliberate choice to actively “internationalize” by seeking an international partner for a student exchange, which we did with a school in Zaragoza, in northern Spain. What followed were efforts to reflect this international focus with a display of national flags, a huge world map at the entrance to the school, and hallways painted with internationally themed murals.

What are some of the reasons you became involved as an advocate for international students?

My interest predates my teaching career and goes back to my work as a geologist in Peru. I arrived in a new country where everything was different and there was a sense of anxiety mixed with excitement. I was immersed in a language and culture all foreign to me. These are some of the same types of feelings that our international students experience. I am both empathetic and supportive of their decision to challenge themselves by studying in a new environment.

ICP Advisor Bob Barter (left) with A.Y. Jackson students who received the OCDSB International Certificate at the June 8th graduation ceremony

What are some of the initiatives that your school has taken to serve international students?

At A.Y. Jackson we make sure to connect our new international students with students enrolled in the ICP. We also have a special lunch to welcome and honour our international students and provide them with A.Y. clothing such as T-shirts and hoodies. We want to expose the international students to a “full” learning experience and A.Y. teachers are encouraged to invite the students on field trips even for courses they are not registered in. I also invite the international students to participate in ICP events such as a recent visit to the Japanese Embassy in May.

Which aspects of your work with the international students do you find most rewarding?

The obvious answer might be taking students on international trips, but I find the many activities going on locally at A.Y. the most rewarding with events such as our annual Multicultural Buffet where students and their families prepare and bring foods for a special lunch to share with all the students and staff. I love that day not just because am a bit of a “foodie” but because it shows the pride the students feel in sharing their culture with the whole school.

What has been the impact of your work with the international students upon you and what have you learned from them?

As much as the international students learn and grow from their experiences at A.Y. Jackson, the Canadian students and staff benefit from having the international students as part of the school. New understandings develop and new friendships are forged.

What is next for you?

Post-Covid I am working to re-establish the opportunities for national and international learning experiences for Our students to explore the world beyond Ottawa and to become more informed and active global citizens.

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