Welcome to Red River College!
We are happy that you have chosen to join our College community!
As you pursue your goals through your program, we hope that you will find opportunity to build great relationships and memorable experiences, and that you will not only learn but also contribute your unique perspectives and skills to our community. We look forward to supporting, sharing, and learning together with you at Red River College.
I’m Norlan Page and I am one of the Student Integration Coordinators here at Red River College. Part of my role is to welcome new immigrant and international students in career programs to Red River College, to help students find the resources they need to get settled in the College and local community, and to share knowledge and strategies to successfully achieve their goals. I am happy to share a number of videos from members of our College community to help you prepare for a great start to your education journey at Red River College.
If you have any questions or difficulties as you are completing this Cultural Orientation, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help.
Get Ready for Success!
The purpose of this pre-program Cultural Orientation is to give you an opportunity to learn about Cultural Diversity in preparation for your intercultural learning experience at Red River College. You should plan to spend about 3 hours on the orientation material, including watching the video segments and completing the Reflection Worksheet and Personal Action Plan.
Through these videos, you may become more aware of the cultural diversity around you and how your own unique cultural background shapes how you see and experience the world. We will explore examples and strategies of how to communicate, live, and work in diverse environments and with people who are culturally different from you, and discuss the journey of integration, becoming a contributing and active member of a new community.
Completing this Orientation
In order to successfully finish this orientation, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Read this Cultural Orientation Guide.
- Watch all the linked videos.
- Complete and save the Reflection Worksheet with your comments, personal reflections and questions.
- Create your Personal Action Plan.
- Complete the Completion Survey online. (You will attach your completed worksheet and Personal Action Plan as part of the survey.)
All international students planning to begin a career program at Red River College should complete this orientation before arriving on campus.
To successfully complete this Cultural Orientation, you will need:
- Access to a computer connected to high-speed internet (to watch videos online)
- Microsoft Word (optional): You can complete the Personal Action Plan Activity in Microsoft Word. If you do not have Microsoft Word, you can print the file, complete it by hand, and submit a scanned copy.
Please watch and think about each of the videos, and complete the Reflection Worksheet questions as they are shared. You will also be provided with a Personal Action Plan template which you can complete as you go through the orientation materials.
Let’s get started!
Things are different here!
When you arrive in Winnipeg, you will notice that things are different than where you are coming from. In your first days here, you may have many new experiences with the local weather, transportation, food, or language.
Some of these differences will be obvious and immediate, and others you may become aware of more slowly as you experience life in a new place.
If you are already in Winnipeg, take a moment to reflect on your experience arriving for the first time.
First Impressions of Winnipeg
In this video, Red River College graduate Jatin Dhabba talks about his first experiences in Winnipeg.
VIDEO: First Impressions of Winnipeg – Jatin Dhabba (1:30)
Depending on when you arrive in Winnipeg and where you are coming from, your experience will be unique, but you may have similar stories to tell about landing in Manitoba.
Hopefully you are looking forward to these new experiences—this is part of the richness of an international education. However, you may find some of these differences challenging and difficult to deal with. You may need to use new strategies and supports to overcome these challenges and to achieve success in your program.
Studying in a New Culture: Dealing with Change
Red River College Counselor, Vidhu Bhanot, shares some tips for dealing with change as an international student.
Which strategies do you think will be useful to you?
Why did you decide to study in Canada?
A journey is more successful when you have a sense of the destination before you start. In this video, we talk about the goals that most students have in mind when they choose to come to Red River College. Do any of these goals seem similar to yours?
VIDEO: Why Intercultural Learning (2:56)
REFLECTION WORKSHEET: Think about the reasons you have for choosing to come to a program at Red River College. What do you hope to accomplish? Take a minute to write down a few of your goals for the next 5-10 years. You could also draw a picture. How will the things that you will be doing this year help you to move towards those goals?
In addition to a destination, it is good to have a plan to guide what you need to learn and do in order to achieve your goals.
PERSONAL ACTION PLAN: Open the template and fill out the following sections with your ideas and information:
Continue to add to this document as you work through the next videos.
Your goals may change along the way, and you may have new ideas for strategies and people that can help you achieve success. Continue to fill out and adapt your plan. If you would like, you can share your plan with someone else to get some feedback and ideas for your plan. You can meet with your Student Integration Coordinator at Red River College after you arrive in Winnipeg to discuss your plan and how we can support you in achieving it.
Developing Cultural Awareness
When we travel to a different country, usually we notice the different weather, food, clothes, language. But many times we don’t realize about the cultural differences because sometimes they are not so visible to us. Because culture shapes the way we experience and interact with the world, it is easy to be unaware of the differences between our own cultural experience and those of the people around us. In the next several videos, we will explore the elements of culture, and how to recognize cultural difference in ourselves and in our environment.
What is Culture?
In the next three videos we explore what we mean when we talk about “culture,” and how to look beyond the visible elements of culture to identify the beliefs and values that are the source of cultural differences.
VIDEO: Defining Culture (7:12)
VIDEO: Understanding Culture (2:51)
VIDEO: Comparing Cultural Values (5:28)
In this video, Red River College’s Director of International Education, Eddy Lau, talks about how being alert to cultural differences can enrich your experience of the world.
VIDEO: Engaging in an Intercultural Life – Eddy Lau (1:50)
As you begin to see the world through an intercultural lens, you can also start to experience personal relationships in a new way. When you come to Red River College, you will find that we have many different cultures represented on campus, and as you get to know people, you will encounter worldviews, values, and practices that are very different than your own.
REFLECTION WORKSHEET: Think about a previous cross-cultural friendship, experience, or interaction that you have had. What did you learn about the other person’s culture through that interaction? What did you learn about yourself?
In this video, Bradley explains how culture can help us to understand how we as individuals are similar and how our culture and personality express our uniqueness as well.
VIDEO: Culture, Personality and Human Nature (4:14)
If groups of people who share common values and experiences express those through cultural values and practices, we can describe the shared characteristics of that group through generalizations. However, each person has their own personality and experiences, which shape their individual identity.
Although many of a person’s values and practices may be shared with their cultural group, we must be careful not to stereotype, or assume that just because they are connected to a certain group or identity, that they must have the same values or practices. We must approach each person as an individual if we want to understand them and develop respectful relationships with them. Each person is unique.
My Experience of Diversity at RRC
Harkirat Kaur is one of our recent graduates, who also volunteered as a Diversity Ambassador during her program. She shares about her experience interacting with other cultures and sharing her own cultural background on campus.
VIDEO: My Experience of Diversity at RRC – Harkirat Kaur (2:39)
Once you become aware of the diversity of cultural values and experiences around you, you can also become aware of your own unique identity as a cultural person.
These next videos guide you to think about yourself and your own experiences. What are the layers of identity that make you who you are, and how does your unique viewpoint of the world contribute to your relationships, your communities, and career?
VIDEO: Where are you coming from? Where are you going? (3:41)
REFLECTION WORKSHEET: Think about your cultural background, and the values that are expressed in your home culture. What cultural values are expressed most strongly in your culture? Do you think these might be similar or different in Canada?
There are many dimensions of diversity that make up our personal identities; in our daily experience these dimensions intersect to influence how we interact in specific situations.
VIDEO: Dimensions of Diversity (3:58)
VIDEO: Intersectionality and Personal Identity (4:38)
REFLECTION WORKSHEET: Think about yourself, your culture, your different roles or identities. What words would you use to describe yourself? (For example, you may identify as a student, a pop culture fan, Buddhist, Chinese, conservative, etc.) Try to think of 5-10 different descriptors. Which words are most important to you? How do these parts of your life interact with one another?
Exploring your own cultural identity is a lifelong process, and I hope that these videos and activities have encouraged your curiosity and desire to reflect more.
Learning in a New Culture
In the next section, we will talk about learning and change. What skills can we develop and practice to be effective in situations where there will be significant cultural differences that we are faced with? What can you do now to prepare to deal with the new cultural environment you will experience in Winnipeg and at Red River College?
Recognizing Cultural Differences
When you get off the airplane (train, bus, or car) in Winnipeg, or walk through the doors of Red River College you will be entering a new world. To be successful in this new environment, you will need to develop new skills. Fortunately, humans are well-equipped to adapt and learn new skills. In this section, we will get ready to take on this challenge with confidence and good strategies.
In this set of videos, you will hear about the experiences of encountering and adjusting to a new cultural environment, and we will share several strategies for learning through this experience.
VIDEO: Cultural Adjustment Cycle (5:36)
Learning a new culture does not mean that you lose your first culture, you just develop additional cultural skills.
VIDEO: Cultural Fluency (2:21)
As you are adjusting to a new cultural environment, there are some strategies that you can practice that may help you to navigate these new experiences.
VIDEO: Strategies for Cultural Adjustment (6:57)
Mindset for Intercultural Success
Approaching new challenges with the right attitude is an important key to success. Red River College instructor Seid Hassan talks about how having an open mind can set you up for success in a new culture.
VIDEO: Mindset for Intercultural Success – Said Hassan (1:03)
PERSONAL ACTION PLAN: At the beginning of this material, you started working on your Personal Action Plan. By now you may have identified new insights, challenges, and strategies for success. Take a few minute to add more information or details to each section of your plan.
Cultural life is characterized by “rules”—but many of these rules are not written or communicated explicitly. How can you find out what these rules are, and what can you do when you encounter behaviours or situations that you don’t expect?
VIDEO: Living Culturally Aware (4:49)
VIDEO: Cultural Rules (3:36)
What to do When You Make Cultural Mistakes
One of our recent graduates, Jatin Dhabba, shares his experience with making cultural “mistakes” as a newcomer to Canada.
You will encounter unexpected responses as you interact in a different cultural setting. This video gives you a strategy for dealing with situations that might seem confusing.
VIDEO: How to Deal with Unexpected Situations (6:29)
Communicating Across Cultures
Communication is essential to achieve your goals, whether negotiating household chores with a roommate or writing a class assignment. However, communication styles and rules can vary widely between cultures—even if you are using the same language! Often in cross-cultural interaction, the perception others have may not be the same as what we intended to communicate. The next two videos discuss how culture can impact language, and what you need to be aware of when you are communicating cross-culturally.
VIDEO: Culture & Communication (10:50)
VIDEO: Communication Styles (9:51)
REFLECTION WORKSHEET: How direct do you think communication is in your culture, on a scale of 1(very indirect) to 5 (very direct)? What strategies do you use to communicate with people with very different communication styles? Can you think of an example where you tried to modify your communication style? What happened?
The following videos offer some tips for understanding and adjusting to Canadian communication patterns.
VIDEO: Communicating Effectively in Canada (6:11)
VIDEO: Communication Pyramid (1:34)
Communication Styles in the Classroom
In this video, International Education Director Eddy Lau shares his experience coming into the Canadian classroom for the first time.
VIDEO: Communication Styles in the Classroom – Eddy Lau (4:09)
Becoming aware of the gaps between cultures is a great first step, but building the skills to effectively bridge those gaps takes a lot of time and practice. In this video, we talk about the lifelong journey of developing intercultural competence, and why it is a pathway that is worth travelling.
VIDEO: Journey towards Intercultural Competence (2:13)
When you come to Canada, you will have many new experiences–isn’t it exciting? I hope you do enjoy the joy of encountering those differences, but as the “honeymoon period” wears off, you will need to get to work, learning the “rules” for your new environment and new ways of communicating, and trying to negotiate unexpected situations.
In the next section, we will discuss ways that you can move beyond exploring a new environment to becoming part of it, participating and contributing to your new school, workplace, or community.
Contributing to Your New Community
Now that you have thought a bit about the kinds of cultural differences you might encounter, and some of the challenges you may face along the way, it is time to start making a plan for how you are going to integrate and make yourself at home in Canada and at Red River College.
If you visit a Canadian home, you might hear the phrase “make yourself at home.” This saying expresses a desire that a visitor can relax and be informal, as if they were in their own house. However, it isn’t always easy to do this in practice.
Hopefully your goal in engaging in an intercultural life is not just to survive the change, but to thrive and change yourself, to move from being a newcomer to being a contributing and engaged member of your new community. In this section we will learn how to prepare and plan to start your new life and career in Canada.
These next videos and activity talk about preparation—getting into a positive mindset, setting realistic goals, and planning the actions to need to take to achieve those goals.
VIDEO: Setting Expectations (3:13)
PERSONAL ACTION PLAN: Look again at your Personal Action Plan. Update it with your new ideas and insights, and write down any questions that you have. You may find answers in the upcoming videos, or you may be able to research them on your own.
Practical research and preparation can make your landing and settlement in Canada much easier.
In this video, International Education Project Manager Manishkumar Upadhyay shares his observations about what kinds of preparation are most valuable to new international students.
VIDEO: Come Prepared! – Manishkumar Upadhyay (5:25)
What to Know Before You Go
One of our international graduate, Ligia Braidotti, shares some of her experiences about how she could have been better prepared for her experience as an international student.
VIDEO: What to Know Before You Go – Ligia Braidotti (3:19)
Networking in a New Country
In this video, Red River College graduate and former Diversity Ambassador, Shuai Wang, shares his experience networking and connecting with people as he worked through his program.
VIDEO: Networking in a New Country – Shuai Wang (2:43)
Many of our international students decide to stay in Canada after they graduate in order to start their career. If this is something that you are considering, you will want to start building connections as soon as you arrive with people who will help you to become part of your community and access opportunities for employment and other activities. The next videos discuss the importance of networking, and strategies for making connections in Canada.
VIDEO: Networking for & through your Career (5:25)
VIDEO: Making your Home in a New Community (4:28)
VIDEO: Making Connections in Manitoba – Norlan Page (4:23)
PERSONAL ACTION PLAN: As you are coming to the end of this Cultural Orientation, look again at your personal action plan. This is a good opportunity to organize your planned actions – what you need to do now, what you should do just before / after you travel, etc.
If you want to get some feedback on your plan, feel free to share it with me, along with your questions. Send it by email to email@example.com We may be able to suggest additional things you can do to make your plan better.
REFLECTION WORKSHEET: Choose one or two things from your plan that you will do this week to continue preparing for your journey to Canada.
What is one thing you will do your first week in Canada?
Congratulations on finishing this short Cultural Orientation to cultural diversity in preparation for your journey to Manitoba and Red River College. I hope that you will continue to actively learn and develop your intercultural competence, with the confidence to contribute your own perspectives, experiences, and competence in this learning community.
We can’t wait to meet you and welcome you to Red River College!
Completing This Orientation
- Fill out the Cultural Orientation Completion Survey.
- You will be prompted to upload your completed Reflection Worksheet and Personal Action Plan as part of the survey.
Advising with your Student Integration Coordinator
Do you have questions? You can contact your Student Integration Coordinator with questions about your experience. We are happy to answer your questions, connect you to supports, and offer encouragement and resources to support your success.
If you would like to request an appointment to meet with your Student Integration Coordinator at your campus after you arrive in Winnipeg for cultural or settlement advising, please contact them by email:
Norlan Page ( Notre Dame Campus and Stevenson Campus)
Lauren Konrad ( Exchange District Campus and Regional Campuses)
The Cultural Orientation was developed on behalf of Red River College, by Norlan Page (Student Integration Coordinator) and Bradley West, CHRP, CCP (Diversity Initiatives Coordinator) in the Diversity and Intercultural Services department, with guidance and support from Nora Sobel, B.A. M.Ed. (A/Manager). Videos were produced by eTV Learning Technologies. This Pre-program Cultural Orientation was developed for Red River College by Norlan Page.
Photos featured in this document are taken from the Red River College Flickr page.