College of the Rockies Anthropology Students Experience Unique Learning Opportunity
College of the Rockies’ Cultural Anthropology students were given a first-hand opportunity to learn about different cultures while also building relationships and a sense of community at the College on Friday, November 21.
With the College hosting 203 international students from 34 countries, English Language program instructor Erin Aasland-Hall saw the opportunity for a project with the Cultural Anthropology students to be an ideal way to bridge gaps between our international and local students.
“The sense of community grows tremendously from these types of activities,” says Aasland-Hall. “Often times Canadian and international students are too shy to initiate a conversation with each other. Activities like this break down that fear and quite often the relationships continue beyond the classroom project. In addition to creating friendships, these collaborations lead to task-specific assignments for the students. They are not simply having a conversation with other students but they must complete a paper for grading so a great learning opportunity takes place.”
Anthropology instructor Avery Hulbert was excited for the opportunity to participate. She saw the partnership as a chance for her students to gain first-hand knowledge about cultures and experiences that are different than their own while also building a sense of community at the College. The program turned out to be an overwhelming success.
“The students were all very nervous at the beginning of the day but came away from the experience not only with a better understanding of different cultures, and research and interview skills but with new friends who they are now connected with both inside and outside of the community. Many of the students came up to us afterward and thanked us for the opportunity,” noted Hulbert.
The Cultural Anthropology class, a first-year university studies course, focuses on learning about anthropological research, ethics and how to be culturally relative, inclusive and sensitive. The existence of the English Language program at the College provided a unique experiential learning opportunity for all the students involved. Extensive preparation was done with both groups to ensure the experience was a positive, academically meaningful, respectful and safe one for all involved. In the end, students had a great time, discovered valuable information about each other and even made new friends.
“This was an amazing experience. I learned a lot about how someone from another culture experiences our own,” adds Cultural Anthropology student Melissa Roberts. “It was a great way to learn about someone else as a person and to make a connection.”
Aasland-Hall and Hulbert look forward to expanding this opportunity to future students in the semesters and years to come.