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Colleges and Institutes Canada Connection Conference 2021: Virtual Mobility Is ‘Likely To Be Here To Stay’

This week, participants from the international education sector gathered at the Halifax Convention Centre in Nova Scotia for the annual Colleges and Institutes Canada Connection Conference. This year’s three-day event had the theme “Navigating Anew.”

Across nautically themed conference strands, CICan stated that this year’s hybrid event was intended to help chart a post-pandemic course by fostering connections between institutions of higher education both in Canada and around the world.

The PIE was present at CICan and heard from a variety of attendees about the value of those collegial connections and conversations. In preserving the topic area, Diego Sanchez, director of International Affairs at Languages Canada, compared language education to “being the port of entry for international students aiming to enter college and institute programmes.”

Languages Canada’s diplomatic missions to Brazil and Mexico, as well as future plans with Japan and Colombia, he says, are strategically diversifying markets. Undoubtedly, future planning was a recurring theme at CICan, with the conference committee declaring that “connections will focus on navigating anew in this fast forward future” this year.

Stephany Codd, manager of Communications & Donor Relations at Light Up the World, Filipe Ferreira, Norquest College’s International Projects officer, and Tahira Ebrahim, manager of Global Engagement at Bow Valley College, discussed the idea that virtual mobility is likely here to stay in a panel discussion about the future of international education.

To emphasise the environmental impact of international education, Ferreira suggested that “integrating digital mobility is being mindful of the carbon footprint.” Ebrahim emphasised the expansion of virtual exchange options as a means of democratising international opportunities for students. “The increased level of agility reflects where we are going,” she argued, emphasising the importance of youth having both digital and face-to-face collaborative skills.

The panel members were also asked how organisations could improve knowledge translation from international experiences to applied global citizenship. Ebrahim also emphasised the importance of reflection and deliberate conversations with multiple stakeholders about how to build global development throughout an organisation. She suggested that focus groups think about two questions: “What does global citizenship look like, and how do we measure it?”

“We need to have integrated institutional discussions if we want [the ideals] to be part of the campus culture,” she added.

The CICan Conference, with over 1,500 attendees and more than 50 learning and development sessions, was brimming with discussions about navigating the future of international education. Several participants, presenters, and exhibitors additionally talked over the three days about navigating the rough waters of the pandemic and the hopes for smooth sailing ahead, from strands such as Governing the Vessel, Charting Teaching and Learning, Steering Innovation, and Mapping Sustainability.

“This was one of the first in-person conferences in Canada since 2019,” Christine Wach, Director of Client Partnerships, North America IDP Connect told The PIE. “It was amazing to meet colleagues and leaders from across the country and around the world again in beautiful Halifax.”

Likewise, Erez Van Ham, chief growth officer at M Square Media proffered, “After so many virtual events it was great to see so many friends in Halifax at the CICan conference. I sense a real positive sentiment towards growth through innovation.”

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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