The UFV international department is funding a new program to get students away from the classroom and into the community. En Route will bring students on three excursions throughout the semester: a corn maze in Chilliwack, a “Winter Wander” in Vancouver, and laser tag in Langley.
The program is being funded through the international department and through ticket sales. Students can purchase a party pack that includes all three trips for $35, or single trips for $15.
“We try to keep the costs as low as possible for students so it’s easier for them to join and for us to do different fun things,” Savannah Waite, senior global student associate at UFV international and organizer of the En Route program, said. “That’s the whole idea, just to have fun.”
Although the program is run out of the international department, Waite said that both international and domestic students are welcome and encouraged to participate in the events, with the goal of the program to not only allow international students to experience Canadian culture and cities, but also to remind domestic students of what is in their own backyard.
“Our vision here is to bring domestic and international students together to build intercultural relationships through off-campus activities,” Waite said.
“We want to facilitate these activities, to help [students] connect better, to give them this mental break from being on campus and from classes, and to explore the Lower Mainland,” Waite said.
The first event that was run by En Route this August saw an attendance of over 130 students, primarily new international students. Students were bussed to Alouette Lake, where they participated in a day of kayaking, canoeing, swimming, relay races, and a barbecue.
“It was just a hangout at the lake, kind of like an old family barbecue type of thing with students,” Waite said.
The next event will take place on the last Friday of September, where students will be brought into Langley for laser tag and dinner. For this event, laser tag and transportation are included in ticket price but the dinner is not.
In October, En Route will be hosting a fruit carving event, followed by an evening corn maze using flashlights and ghost stories around the campfire.
“We’re literally grabbing various fruits and we’re going to carve them so it’s not just pumpkins,” Waite said. “It gives something a little bit different for the domestic students because pumpkin carving is common [here], but again, for international students, they may have never heard of pumpkin carving.”
The final event in December will bring students into Vancouver after exams are over to ice skate in Robson Square and then admire the Christmas lights at Bright Nights in Stanley Park.
The program was inspired by a club started by Waite and friends in 2016 with the Student Union Society (SUS). Though the idea was to facilitate activities and travel around the Fraser Valley for students, the club ran into problems with the SUS’s old turnover times for club funding. A total of two events were run during their time as a club, with event one being paid for out of pocket by club executives when funding was not approved.
Students wishing to participate in En Route can sign up on myCampusLife and pay for the excursions with their campus cards at the international office in B223. Space may be limited, and tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Students are also invited to learn about the event at a free karaoke and pizza evening on Sept. 28 at international.
Image: Sahil Bali/Contributor