Jessica Klymchuk – Kamloops This Week
Clearwater’s Aaren Ritchie-Bonar is one of three Thompson Rivers University students headed to Ottawa last weekend to promote the university’s Study Abroad ambassador program.
Ritchie-Bonar, Madison Ellis, and Tatiana Gilbert will present at the 50th-annual Canadian Bureau for International Education Conference, endorsing student-led initiatives that encourage other students to take advantage of exchange programs.
They were selected to present an hour-long session on “leveraging the student experience” and a two-minute video they produced during their time as ambassadors for TRU Study Abroad after returning from various countries.
All three studied overseas in 2014 and 2015: Gilbert spent two semesters in Australia, Ritchie-Bonar studied for one semester in Belize and Ellis lived in France for one semester.
Each expressed their desire to explore other countries without putting their degree on hold, even amidst apprehension about what direction they wanted to take with their education.
“It was a great way to incorporate school and travelling and it’s a completely different experience than just travelling solo,” Ritchie-Bonar said.
Gilbert said they want other students to have the same opportunity they did and aimed to capture the inspiration of travel in their production.
“Really, the biggest takeaway we wanted people to get from it was just a motivational video where you get goosebumps at the end of it, where you say, ‘Wow I want to go do that,’” she said.
Canadian Bureau for International Education is a non-profit organization that promotes study abroad exchanges, scholarships and internships for students in kindergarten to university. It also promotes the interests of international students studying in Canada.
According to the Bureau, 97 per cent of Canadian universities offer education abroad, but only 3.1 per cent of full-time undergraduate students study abroad annually.
“We really want to give people the takeaway message that student-led initiatives can really benefit universities and their study abroad programs,” Ritchie-Bonar said. “This going out semester, we have the highest number of students studying abroad and the study abroad manager is saying it has a lot to do with the ambassadors.”
The trio will be accompanied by the cinematographer who filmed the promotional video, Japneet Singh. Co-presenting the hour-long session are program manager Karie Russell and Lian Dumouchel from the B.C. Council for International Education.
They have been fundraising for the trip to Ottawa. To donate, go online to gofundme.com/2kghab8.