Co-op, internship, practical experience, thesis paper…
These foreign words made no sense back in Gr. 12… all I knew was they were good things.
Fastforward to current-Kelly who is writing this post entirely dedicated to the importance of having these as components of your degree. Someone might wonder: “Glendon doesn’t have any co-op options?!” This is true. But, this isn’t the only way to gain practical experience. York International offers internships and you can read about my adventures in Costa Rica here and here. Some programs offer final year courses on completing an internship or a thesis paper, however, International Studies provides a combination of the two – the Symposium. Here is an exclusive FAQ-FYI on everything you need to know about this course from an insider:
What is the Symposium?
In it’s 20th year, the Symposium is a long-lasting tradition at Glendon that started as a student-initiative and remains as a student-led project. It is a 4th year course that allows a handful (~7-9) of selected International Studies students (from a pool of applicants) to focus on a specific region or country and organize a conference at the end of the academic year. The class is broken into 5 components: (1) customized lectures and seminars during the first term, (2) organization of the Symposium, (3) a field research trip to the region, (4) writing a research essay, and (5) the publication of the proceedings of the Symposium and students’ essays.
What are the roles of the students on the Symposium team?
There are 7 distinctive roles: (1) Project Coordinator – the manager of the team who ensures that everyone is on track and is the main liaison with admin, (2) Logistic Coordinator – organizes the services and resources needed to make sure the event runs efficiently in the space, (3) Panelist Coordinator – main liaison with potential panelists, (4) Fundraising Coordinator – the darling of the team who works hard to ensure we meet our goals to fund the event, (5) Finance Coordinator – oversees our monetary existence and creates the budget, (6) Public Relations Coordinator – the face of the team who meets internal and external individuals/groups to spread the news, and (7) Media & Communications Coordinator – who’s goal is to brand the team and make it accessible.
This year, we have 9 members on board so we have 2 Project Coordinators and created a new position: Internal Coordinator – responsible with managing the volunteer team and providing support to other team members.
How does the Symposium encompass both theoretical and practical aspects of education?
As mentioned previously, the Symposium operates on lectures, guest seminars, and off-campus excursions during the first semester to provide a thorough knowledge on the specific region/country. This year, the Symposium team has chosen to shine a light on Japan. Alongside lectures on Japanese history, culture and geography, we had the opportunity to meet with the honourable Consul-General, Yasunori Nakayama, visit the Japanese Canadian Culture Centre to listen to Keo talk about his internment experience, learn about the amazing resources at the Japan Foundation, take part in a question-and-answer exclusive meeting with Author Fuminori Nakamura, and watch the screening of Vincent, Who? with Director Curtis Chin.
Another important aspect of this class is the research paper each student has to write with the potential of publication. My research paper will focus on the discussion of identity construction seen in the Ainu, an indigenous group in Japan, in contrast with the “homogeneous nationalist” identity of Japan.
How does Symposium provide an “internship” experience?
As simple as it seems to divide the course into two distinctive periods (1st term – class, and 2nd term – symposium), the organization and planning of the symposium begins even before the class starts. It requires teamwork, communication skills, and independency to ensure that all tasks are done on time. As the team’s Media & Communication Coordinator, I had the ability to explore international studies through my passion of graphic design, typography, photography and pop culture. I had the responsibility of creating the media & sponsorship package, the logo, the website and various advertising. My love for Japanese pop culture also allowed me to organize various on-campus events such as Lunik Co-op x Café Nihon where participants could partake in various workshops on sushi-making, origami, learn about Japanese culture through the Salon Japan, and sing their hearts out with a karaoke session at the end of the event.
The Symposium was definitely a major factor in deciding the program I wanted in university – versatile and applicable. And, now I want you to experience the same thing!