Daily Dose — Selkirk College Brings Holiday Cheer to International Students
Before the Christmas Holiday break, a group of Selkirk staff put together gift packages for students in college housing who will be staying on campus during the festive season.
They put together 69 baskets this year.
“Selkirk College acknowledges that many students, domestic and international alike, cannot make it home for the holidays. To make their season a little brighter, college departments donate funds to help purchase gifts that show our hearts are with them and we value them as part of our community,” says Katie Comrie, Healthy Campus Coordinator for the college.
A Selkirk College international student who is staying in residence over the holidays is Hitkamini, a second-year student in hospitality management and also a Student Ambassador Mentor.
“It’s wonderful to be here,” Hitkamini says. “It’s going great.”
She is from a part of India that is much like Nelson in that it is a tourist area with mountains.
“It’s pretty similar to Nelson. Mountains and such a great winter, beautiful weather all the time,” says Hitkamini. “When I came here last year I was like, oh my goodness it’s so beautiful, the same as my place in India.”
Happily, she is not homesick so far this holiday season.
“I don’t get that homesick. But yes, absolutely when we have our big festivals [back home], I do feel a bit, ‘What if I was with my family?’ We decided to come all the way from India and make our future so we have to leave something back home,” she says.
Hitkamini thinks it’s kind of the college to give gift baskets to students sticking around as she says some people she knows will be homesick.
“It’s such a cool thing,” says Hitkamini.
Hitkamini has built a community for herself here in Nelson.
“I’m a people person. I love to be around other people and getting know their cultures and luckily I’ve found locals here that are very honest, sweet, and welcoming. I have friends around here and we get together. This Christmas we will be having a couple of dinners all together,” says Hitkamini.
Christmas is not a big celebration for most people in India, she says, although it is becoming more popular.
“In our culture, Diwali is the biggest celebration in India,” she says.
Hitkamini says she doesn’t have too many other plans over the holidays other than enjoying a rest from school.
“It’s a relaxing time for us after our studies. Maybe just working, meeting our friends, and having a dinner or a lunch together. This month is a celebration.”
Hitkamini was in the hospitality industry for over a decade before coming to Canada. She is on a study leave from a hotel in India where she currently is employed. She plans to return to the company that she works for after completing her studies.
Hitkamini is so grateful for her experience in Nelson thus far.
“I feel lucky to come from my country, very far, my first time outside of my country, here in Canada, especially in this community here in Nelson where I found people super honest, very helpful, smiley-faced. It’s amazing. I’ve never seen this in my life.”