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September 19, 2005

Helsinki exchange gives students new perspective - Kwantlen Chronicle

Exchange programs between Kwantlen and other educational institutes are not new.

Kwantlen fashion students have been on exchanges to Finland and, more recently, to two institutions in Taiwan, says administrative assistant Celia Lam.

Shih Chien University and Tainan Women’s College of Arts and Technology have begun to accept exchange students from Kwantlen.

Students hoping to go on exchange need to submit an application for review by faculty and administrators.

This spring there are five students on exchange, says Lam – three to Finland and two to Taiwan.

Previously there was an opportunity for the interior-design students to travel abroad under the CODE Mobility Exchange Program, which involved six institutions from Canada, the U.S.A. and Mexico.

“It’s a life-changing experience for most of the students,” says Lam. “It’s personality building, an eye-opener to something else other than what’s here.”

Two fashion-design students from Kwantlen who recently returned from an exchange with Finland say it was one of the greatest experiences they’ve ever had.

Katherine Chu, 25, and Melissa Kwan, 26, both travelled to Helsinki, Finland, last spring to live and learn from a different perspective.

Learning fashion in Finland wasn’t much like learning fashion here, says Chu. “They stress creativity over there, whereas Kwantlen’s a very technical school . . . It complements what we’re learning here.”

The two travellers agree a mix of having a clean slate with their new friends, mingling in a foreign culture and learning from a different perspective made it a wonderful experience.

“Oh, and our Pasila family,” adds Kwan with a reminiscent smile. The name Pasila comes from the neighbourhood they lived in, she explains. They were 12 students from all over the world who came together as a family.

“She’s wearing the shirt right now,” Chu laughs as she notes the word “Pasila” written across the front of Kwan’s T-shirt.

“Now that I’ve lived in a different country and I survived, I know I can go anywhere else and live there, too,” says Kwan.

The exchange has made her realize there’s more out there, says Chu. “I want to travel after school and continue my fashion studies abroad.”

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