Are you interested in continuing to grow your knowledge and skills in working most effectively with international students?  If so, we’re hoping to help.

This semester, Kathleen Bortolin (Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning) and Mackenzie Sillem (International Education) are co-facilitating a four-part series entitled Culture in the classroom: Working with international students. Currently there are approximately 1800 international students from over 70 countries studying at VIU.  That’s almost 15% of our student body.  For this reason, we are interested in supporting faculty and staff in working with international students by designing a series of workshops that engage participants in discussions and skill-building around  cross-cultural communication and pedagogical strategies.

Looking at both pedagogical and interpersonal approaches, facilitators will guide participants through a variety of activities (experiential exercises, readings, discussions, guest speakers, reflections, etc.) to explore culture in the classroom and pedagogical strategies to working with diverse learners. The sessions will be run seminar-style, with participant discussion being a major focus of the series. In this way, we hope to acknowledge the expertise of the participants as we work together for shared understanding.  We also hope that these sessions will provide participants with a community of practice where members will share practical suggestions and take-aways, supporting one another in an ongoing journey of intercultural learning. Finally, we are hoping that the culmination of the learning that takes place in this series will result in a participant-created resource for faculty at VIU. What this “resource” might look like will be discussed during the series.

Objectives of the series include:

  • building a community of interdisciplinary faculty and staff at VIU interested in learning more about working effectively with international students
  • increasing cultural self-awareness
  • reflecting on our own culturally conditioned identities
  • discussing cultural similarities and differences that arise in academic settings, and that stem from underlying cultural values and priorities
  • uncovering and applying pedagogical strategies to working with diverse learners in the areas of community-building, assessment and evaluation, group work, and communication
  • investigating the field of intercultural communication and related skills, and reflecting on how these can influence pedagogical approaches

When and Where

Sessions will be held on four Thursday afternoons throughout the semester. We will meet from 3pm-5pm in Building 305, Room 444, and light refreshments will be served.  Please note that by registering for this series, participants are expected to attend all sessions.

  • Thursday, September 18
    Introduction: Culture in the Classroom
  • Thursday, October 2
    Foundations and skills in intercultural communication
  • Thursday, October 16
    Pedagogical tips and strategies to teaching international students
  • Thursday, November 20
    Applying our knowledge: Interculturalizing our curriculum


To register, please contact Kathleen Bortolin (