Posted on October 28, 2008 by Tia Lalani

Augustana is the faculty of choice for many international students. This year, first year student Alejandro Velez is an International Student Liaison.

by Kara Blizzard

Augustana is the faculty of choice for many international students. This year, first year student Alejandro Velez is an International Student Liaison. He is working with the Learning and Beyond office, located on the third floor of Founder’s Hall, to coordinate events that cater to students who are new to Canada.

Alejandro is from Bogotá, Colombia, and he came to Canada for the first time this September. He is studying business here at Augustana, and he has dreams of working in many different countries after he finishes university: “I would love to work everywhere,” he said. He already has an impressive amount of international experience: he grew up in Colombia, went to high school in France for a year, has lived in Nicaragua and Portugal, and spent the past summer in New York. He speaks Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English. In high school, Alejandro was President of the Colombia National Model United Nations, as well as Secretary General of his high school’s own Model UN.

As International Student Liaison, one of Alejandro’s goals is to bring international students together to form a helping community. Alejandro will coordinate one event each month to help students get to know one another. For instance, in October he is helping organize Tricks for Eats, an annual event that the Students’ Association puts on. He is hoping to assemble a group of international students to participate in the event. They will dress up and go door-to-door, collecting items for the food bank. Alejandro thinks this will be a new and fun experience for international students, since many of them likely haven’t celebrated Halloween before.

Another of Alejandro’s endeavours is a Language Exchange program. Students who speak a certain language will be matched up with students who want to become more proficient. Pairs can then plan activities together or simply arrange short conversations in which the desired language will be spoken. The meetings will be mutually beneficial: the tutor will gain experience teaching, and the learner will have increased opportunities to practice the language. According to Alejandro, the response so far has been positive.

In addition to being International Student Liaison, Alejandro serves as International Student Representative for the Students’ Association. Already, he says, “I have been able to learn many skills and to practice the things that I had learned before.” Alejandro looks forward to coordinating future events and helping develop Augustana’s international student community.


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