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Volunteerism: A Remedy for Culture Shock

  • Volunteerism: A Remedy for Culture Shock

The following blog post was written by Kelty Christensen, Learner Engagement Officer at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.

Experiencing culture shock can feel overwhelming and exhausting for many international learners.

A suggestion for learners who are experiencing culture shock is to become involved in campus and community activities. For example, learners can join the ICan Crew and volunteer on campus and within the Calgary community. Volunteering can help to lessen the impact of culture shock by:

Creating opportunities to practice English and improve communication skills

Language is learned best when used in real life situations and interactions. Volunteering puts learners into a position of interacting with other individuals, fulfilling tasks, and communicating information about various topics. This exposure helps to build language and communication skills.

Creating connections and opportunities to meet new people   

It is critical for international learners to put themselves outside of their comfort zone and actively create new networks. Volunteering opens doors to meeting people with common interests and helps to pave the way for new friendships. Making new friends can help international learners understand all of the hidden nuances of the host culture.

Providing new opportunities to learn in a safe environment

Venturing into new situations introduces learners to different opportunities to learn. Volunteering creates a safe environment for international learners to explore new concepts and ideas about their host country.

Building self-confidence and supporting personal growth 

Volunteering can inspire leadership and confidence in one’s ability to navigate new cultures. 

International learners who are willing to seek out involvement often have the most success in adapting to their international learner experience. 

Here is what a few recently arrived international learners had to say about volunteering on campus.

 “I am so excited!  Today is my best day because I am learning everything about Canada. I have had the most exceptional time.” 

“At first, I thought my English was so bad. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I hosted tours for the new students, now I’m not afraid to speak anymore.”

The Intercultural Centre works actively with International Education to create opportunities for international learners to engage and connect to the BVC community.