A conversation with the executive director of MacEwan International

Mar 20 2015


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MacEwan International’s new executive director is ready to connect the university with the world

“One of the things I love about international work is that it’s always fascinating, you’re always learning and it’s usually incredibly complex,” says Kimberley Howard. “We’re always trying to think of strategies and solutions to make partnerships work for all sides.”

The many sides of MacEwan International include international students who come to the university for their post-secondary education, domestic students who journey overseas to supplement their education with an international learning experience, and faculty and staff engaged in international research or projects. It’s a nuanced balance, but one that Kimberley, the new executive director of MacEwan International, is keen to be part of.

Kimberley is no stranger to international opportunities. In her previous role in the School of Business, she played a major role in establishing the school’s internationalization strategy—which included, for students, partnerships and exchanges, study tours and visiting scholars, as well as overseas collaborations for faculty members.

Here Kimberley provides insight into her new role and MacEwan International.

Having worked with international and domestic students, is there something you have observed that stays with you?

KH: For our domestic students going abroad, it’s so rewarding to see their perspectives open up and for them to be able to have a different prism on Canada, their culture and their lives. It’s especially evident when we go to places where the cultural gap is quite wide, like India. Students really learn and grow with these experiences.

There are some really amazing stories of what international students have done to come to Canada. I admire the perseverance and the courage of these students to come to a new country, to leave their families, their homes, their culture, their friends and their first language. It’s quite brave for them to do that. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for international students who have, in some cases, made huge sacrifices to come and study.

What are your goals for MacEwan International?

KH: I want internationalization to be part of the fabric of the university. I hope that we can have more diversity and that our students will be global citizens, and I would love to see everyone involved in internationalization in some way.

What is something that people may not know or understand about your role as director?

KH: The fact that it touches so many areas. MacEwan International works with the faculties and schools, the Office of the University Registrar, CAFÉ, SAMU, the School of Continuing Education, Student Life, Residence—it’s an integrative role. There is also significant collaboration and networking externally as well.

What might people not know about the students MacEwan International serves?

KH: It’s impossible to know who an international student is unless they self-identify. When I take students abroad, often 50 per cent of them are born outside of Canada, but they may all hold Canadian passports. Sometimes people will say, “I have an international student in my class”—but it turns out the student is a Canadian citizen. It’s similar to how people may assume an American student in their class isn’t international.

What new opportunities would you like to see MacEwan International provide students?

KH: My dream is to offer a service learning program abroad that involves our alumni, faculty, students, staff and the local community. I think this is really in line with Dr. MacEwan’s values.

I also would love to see the university implement co-curricular records for MacEwan International, so that students would get recognition for doing a suite of international courses across the different programs. A mandatory study abroad component would be nice too!

Internationalization is a priority for the university. We’re committed to creating a diverse university and providing international opportunities for our faculty, our students and our staff. We’re committed to increasing our international student population and to creating global citizens.


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