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Friday, 4 October 2013

'The Hamilton Series' introduces Steeltown to visiting students

Every world traveler wants a taste of local flavour, and students are no exception. To satisfy the most insatiable global learners at McMaster International Student Services recently launched "The Hamilton Series" — a hands-on program that exposes visiting students to the city's unique history and popular attractions.

The initiative consists of educational workshops and off-campus excursions throughout the fall term, and was designed to help visiting students get the most out of their time in Hamilton. Organizers received a $4,700 Student Life Enhancement Fund grant to finance the pilot project.

"For international and exchange students, they don't really know what the city's history is like, or where we come from as people," said Jenna Levi, education abroad coordinator, International Student Services.

"International students often remain on campus, even well into their second and third years."

To help familiarize newcomers with their adopted home, Levi and her team focused on a number of key areas related to Hamilton, including: the arts, the changing economy, local history, urban attractions and natural resources. The goal was to offer well-rounded, informative and fun sessions to students from all over the world.

To date, the seminars have included participants from Brazil, China, Australia, Singapore, Japan and numerous countries in Europe and the U.K.> "What's the point of going abroad if you don't truly know where you're living? We want these students to learn all about the city's industrial heritage, but also get a sense of the beautiful, natural resources in their backyard, including Hamilton Harbour and Cootes Paradise," said Levi.

Ron Hermenau, a 23-year-old exchange student from Atlenburg, Germany, has already attended two of the fall sessions — one at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and another in scenic Cootes Paradise. He says the Hamilton Series is a great opportunity for newcomers to feel connected with the city in a more meaningful way.

"You can only learn so much by reading," said Hermenau, who's studying chemical biology at McMaster during his six-month exchange. "I wanted to gain a deeper insight into the culture and environment in Hamilton, and also understand what it looked like in the past. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone Interested."

Upcoming Hamilton Series events are as follows:
"A Town Called Hamilton: A Historical Perspective" — Friday, Oct. 11
Speaker: Margaret Houghton, Local History & Archives, Hamilton Public Library
Excursion: Dundurn Castle

"Neighbourhood Watch: A Look at Hamilton's People & Communities" — Friday Oct. 18
Speaker: Terry Cooke, Hamilton Community Foundation
Excursion: TBA

"Progress from a Steeltown: Hamilton's Economy" — Friday Nov. 8
Speaker: Jennifer Patterson, Economic Development
Division, City of Hamilton
Excursion: TBA

Story by:
Andrew Baulcomb, Dail Mail, McMaster University.

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