Students involved in Multicultural Leadership attended a Christmas tree festival at the Terry Fox Library to celebrate the holidays with a series of fun activities. Many of the international students involved have never experienced a Canadian Christmas before, especially being away from their families, they find it difficult to celebrate during the Winter season.

Fun times!

Ms. Catherine Yamamoto, the teacher involved in Multicultural Leadership, described the feelings most students feel when they’re away from home from their families, and what it’s like to experience the holidays without them.
“For many of them it’s their first time that they’ve experienced the Canadian holiday spirit,” said Yamamoto. “Many of them are living with home-stays, but you know, we don’t know to what extent they celebrate or decorate for the holidays. Christmas baking is a big thing here, but I know in Japan they have small ovens, but they don’t really do anything with that. So for them to make the dough, cut it out and decorate, it’s really a unique experience for them.”

Riverside’s own star!

Yamamoto then went on to further detail the experiences the international students do when it came to decorating the Christmas tree at the Library.
We made origami decorations, in that way they’re sort of starting to feel like a part of it, and they’re beginning to understand how to create ornaments that are meaningful.”

With many of the international students feeling homesick from their parents, Yamamoto wanted to make sure their each experience every year provided some excitement and fun out of the occasion. When asked about what the other years were like, she described the positivity from the leaders and the students.
Always very positive just like this, I always ask for people who’d be interested in doing this, it doesn’t have to be everybody. I always get a very nice group of people who are willing to teach them how to make decorations, then we walk down to the library taking the tree with us, then we set it up with the lights and it’s all very great.”

Whether it’s seeing the bright lights hung up in Port Coquitlam, or eating baked goods at the festival, it’s wonderful to know that international students are surrounded with positive energy during the Winter season.