New BCCIE Program Connects the Dots for Participant Tricia McCuaig

From fall 2020 to winter 2021, BCCIE hosted a series of webinars as part of its new intercultural dialogue certificate program, the Intercultural Intersections in International Education: Reflective Practices Through Dialogue. The program facilitated conversations about intercultural issues facing the international education field today. Tricia McCuaig was one of the inaugural program participants and BCCIE recently caught up with her to ask about her experience in the program.

As the Principal of International Education and English Language Learners for School District 42 (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows), Tricia continually looks for professional development opportunities for herself and her staff on intercultural practices that are specific to the sector.

“I am passionate about international education,” says Tricia. “When I received an email from BCCIE, I registered right away for the series. After I participated in a few of the sessions, I recommended them to the international teachers, management, and school-based staff in my district.”

Led by international and Canadian practitioners, the webinars facilitated dialogue amongst program participants like Tricia, encouraging them to reflect on themselves, their theories of practice, and the institutional structures in which they work. By exploring new ways of knowing and learning to inform their professional practices and personal values, participants are empowered to foster a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. Tricia notes how the format of the program helped to support her learning:

“The webinars covered a range of topics that were relevant to both international and intercultural education. I liked the fact that it was a series of webinars, each covering a topic of current interest and spaced throughout the year rather than a standalone workshop. Each webinar built on the previous, allowing me to make bigger connections. You could see the commonalities of equity, dignity and connections that ran through the series but also see the differences, like what is valued in an individualistic society versus a collective society.”

The current global pandemic has changed the way people usually gather to learn, share and engage in conversations around intercultural and international education. However, Tricia notes that going to a conference is not easy even at the best of times.

“You have to consider travel, cost and time,” she says. The fact that I could participate online or watch the recordings at a later date made it very accessible.”

Tricia liked the shared resources of the program. For example, the graphs and data gave her the visuals she needed to help her “connect the dots”. Another plus was having great speakers share their stories and experience and relate them to international education because it is what “so many people across the province and the country are currently struggling with.” In addition, the webinars spotlighted the value that a strong international education program can bring to schools and communities.

In terms of her program takeaways, Tricia offers the following:

“I’ve really tried to integrate what I learned into how we welcome new international students: by teaching them about what is valued in the B.C. school system and by better understanding the differences in how different cultures/countries learn. I try to make sure that all students have a voice and the opportunity to connect with their peer groups, so they can feel more visible and better heard. We have just as much to learn from international students as they do from us.”

For Tricia, the timing is right for an intercultural dialogue; being aware and appreciative of what different people bring to any interaction is important. She believes that the number of topics that could be explored through the intercultural lens is endless, which is why she would “certainly be happy to see the series continue and build on the momentum.”

For more information about the Intercultural Dialogue Series or the intercultural dialogue certificate program, please visit the Intercultural Dialogue Series page