Orientation During the Pandemic

Orientation for new international students adapts for the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated many changes in the ways OCENET welcomes our international students to OCDSB schools and to the Ottawa area.

 

 

OCENET developed a comprehensive online resource to assist new international students get to know their new school and home while studying in Ottawa


OCENET’s new online Assessment and Orientation program helps students be successful in their learning

In response to the pandemic, OCENET developed a new International Students Arrival Guide to assist students become informed and adjust to school life and Homestay in Ottawa. In addition, OCENET prepared an online Assessment and Orientation program to assist with the appropriate placement of new students based on proficiencies in English and mathematics. These documents provide comprehensive resources which include basic information from public transportation and Canadian currency to essential information about how the school day is organized to ways to adjust to living in Homestay with a Canadian family.

OCENET staff organized a two week long arrival orientation program delivered online prior to the beginning of school classes in September. The program was designed to be informative and engaging, and at all times the focus was on supporting new international students. Topics emphasized practicalities such as the role of Student Services counsellors and how the students could access their health insurance.

Students attended presentations about school life in Canada and ways to get involved in school sponsored activities such as sports and clubs as well as the International Certificate Program (ICP).

One of the most important features of the orientation program was the role current OCDSB students enrolled in the ICP had in partnering with new international students to tell the new students about their new school and to answer specific questions. This peer -to peer approach developed a relationship with another student from their school and helped the new students overcome some anxieties they may have had about attending their new school. In addition, near the end of the two week orientation program, returning international students mentored the new students about ways they adjusted to life in Ottawa when they first came here to study.

Many guest speakers delivered sessions ranging from an introduction to Ottawa’s many national museums, to pointing out local landmarks and attractions, to a trivia quiz about Canadian culture and history. ICP students along with International Education Coordinator, Sean Oussoren, led a lively and informative discussion on cultural awareness.

During an online orientation meeting, an OCDSB student explains how the school schedule works to new international students. This student-to student approach was very successful in supporting new international students.

There were other presentations on Anishinaabe art, world music, and photography techniques including an OCENET photo contest for new students. Ottawa’s Poet Laureate, Albert Dumont, delivered a session on Indigenous poetry, stories and traditions. During the orientation program there was even a virtually delivered workshop on kick boxing with OCENET’s Kevin Orange live from the Beaver Boxing Club!

All of these activities were designed to help our new international students feel at ease and be prepared to confidently begin and enjoy their new learning experience in Ottawa.

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