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Olds College wants to open classes to the world

Olds College has been working at extending its classrooms beyond four walls.

Since December, Denise Ayres has been the co-ordinator of international engagement at Olds College, a role that sees her help send students abroad as well as assisting international students on campus.

“We’re looking at taking the classroom out into areas of the world where they’ll be looking at things, but from an international perspective.”

She said they want to find out what students and teachers want in terms of international learning opportunities, as well as ways to internationalize the classroom.

“That’s an area we want to grow,” said Ayres.

“Olds College has a huge history of international development. Right now we have, for example, the Mexican degree completion program and we have 22 Mexican students here.”

The longtime partnership brings Mexican agricultural students to Olds. Ayres said this adds to the culture and feel of the Central Alberta campus.

“They truly enjoy their Canadian experience here in Olds,” said Ayres.

But the role isn’t just about providing opportunities to students, Ayres said international opportunities for staff are also part of her job.

“We also want to push projects that have a social entrepreneur and philanthropy spin to them.”

Ayres pointed to the coffee project that Olds College undertook where the school partnered with Belarminio Ramirez Coffee, a Dominican Republic university and Coffee Concept out of Calgary to bring coffee from five to eight different independent growers.

The project raised $20,000, of which 90 per cent goes towards the Dominican Republic Scholarship Fund.

“These days, if you don’t have international backgrounds, it’s really hard to be competitive out there,” said Ayres. “We have to have that component in our programs to make it a better experience for the students.”

Ayres said she brings a lot of enthusiasm to the role and is excited to be in Olds.



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