Intercultural Learning Program
The Intercultural Learning Program (ILP) is a way to build your intercultural skills at home or abroad. The ILP involves discovering how your own cultural identities shape the way you understand and operate in the world and recognizing culture at work in your everyday experiences. Simply immersing yourself in a different culture does not automatically lead to deeper intercultural awareness. Growing your intercultural understanding depends on a blend of personal motivation and guided learning.
Students who participate in our program have reflected on the benefits of this learning, including more confidence in their intercultural communication skills and becoming better mentors and leaders in their communities. We meet multiple times over the semester (workshops, outings, socials and peer discussion groups) so there are plenty of ways to get involved!
There are many benefits to enhancing your intercultural sensitivity, but here are just a few:
- Think about your own cultural identities as a domestic, international, or exchange student in the U of T community
- Recognize the multiple ways that a person’s culture can influence their behaviour and expectations in academic, professional, and personal contexts
- Apply frameworks of intercultural communication to how you can successfully collaborate with peers or supervisors
- Develop your own intercultural learning goals and strategies to better communicate and understand across cultural differences
All U of T graduate and undergraduate students are eligible. Ideally the program will be a mix of domestic students, international students, and both inbound and outbound exchange students.
How it works
The Intercultural Learning Program has three main components:
Part 1: Introductory workshop
To get you thinking about the issues and to familiarize you with some intercultural theory.
Part 2: Experiential component
The Experiential component will deepen your learning. The experiential component has two elements:
- The experiential sessions are guided-learning activities that enable you to explore the variety of ways you experience culture in your everyday life (see below for examples of past sessions).
- Each session is paired with a peer-led discussion group (conducted in person or online) in which participants reflect on their own experience and that of their peers.
Note: An introductory workshop must be completed before you may participate in an experiential session.
Part 3: Debrief and next steps workshop
Process your ILP experience in a group setting and consider further topics for lifelong intercultural learning.
Outbound exchange students can participate in experiential sessions while abroad. You will be given instructions to complete a parallel activity and then join the discussion group online.
Past experiential sessions
The Intercultural Learning Program invites expert facilitators to lead students through experiential sessions that include guided activities and discussions. Here are some examples of sessions that ILP students have participated in in the past:
Urban Landscapes – Students were asked to (re-)imagine the city landscapes they interact with on an everyday basis and discover the cultural expressions hidden within them through field sketches.
Museum Cultures – During a day at the Royal Ontario Museum, students engaged with cultural artifacts, curated spaces, and pieces of art using different perspectives and lenses.
The Role of Faith-Based Communities in Canadian Civil Society – Students visited the KAIROS Ecumenical Canadian Justice Initiatives and the Masjid Mosque in downtown Toronto to better understand the social justice and human rights initiatives that these organizations participate in.
Waste Cultures – The Sustainability Office at U of T tasked students with performing an audit of items discarded in garbage bins across the St. George campus in order to think about waste culture and conservation more broadly.
First Nations House – Students were welcomed by Elders at First Nations House and considered specific rituals, familial structures, and the variety of First Nations communities, as well as the history of the relationship between these communities and the Canadian government.
Indigenous Language Games – Facilitated by Centre for Indigenous Studies, students enjoyed a game of Baapaase (translation: “woodpecker”) in which they read and acted out words in Anishinaabemowin to learn about its pronunciation and meanings kinaesthetically.
Aga Khan Museum – Students enjoyed a guided tour of artifacts from several Islamic civilizations within the permanent collection, followed by an interactive board game about traders travelling along the Silk Route.
Nature Walks – These outdoor excursions led students by foot to the Evergreen Brick Works and High Park to learn about their ecological, geological, and social histories. The tours also touched upon the stories of Indigenous, settler, and other newcomer communities of these areas.
Short Films Discussion – Using narrative and documentary cinema as an example of how to enhance one's global perspectives, students viewed and critiqued short films on the subject of crossing borders.
Kahontake Kitikan – Led by the Native Students’ Association, participants visited a sacred medicinal garden near Queen’s Park to learn about ceremonies that involve cedar, sage, sweet grass, and tobacco.
What do students have to say about ILP?
"The greatest benefit I had from this program was the facilitation/access to people, perspectives, theories, resources and spaces that normally I would not encounter in my day-to-day at U of T. In sum, it was a very valuable experience to expand my horizons in this way."
"I have always considered myself an 'internationally minded' person. However, it wasn’t until I decided I wanted to study abroad that I became motivated to really build on my intercultural knowledge and skills. I saw how my personal learning goals aligned with those of the ILP, and felt that the program would provide me with the tools I needed for my trips abroad… and even studying in Toronto."
"Sometimes, I find myself reflecting on the exercises we have done as I go about my day to day life.… When I was in the discussions with other ILPers, they were able to offer insights I had not considered before. I think this is especially rewarding as it serves to remind me that my way of thinking isn't the only way of thinking."
The ILP offers two levels of CCR validation: introductory and full membership:
- To receive full membership you must complete an introductory workshop, four experiential sessions (including corresponding discussion groups), and a next steps workshop.
- To receive introductory membership you must complete an introductory workshop, two experiential sessions (including corresponding discussion groups), and a next steps workshop.
The time commitment is approximately 15 hours for introductory membership and approximately 25 hours for full membership.
When are ILP events held?
ILP workshops and sessions are held each term and you can begin at any time, as long as you complete an introductory workshop first. Once you are registered for the program, you will be informed of upcoming events through regular emails and notifications on a Facebook group page.
Events are usually held on Friday evenings or sometimes on weekends; although occasionally facilitator schedules may require scheduling on other days.
Introductory workshops are usually held in January, September, April/May, and July of each year.
All workshops will be held in the Baldwin Room in the Centre for International Experience (Cumberland House, 33 St. George Street).
If you are interested in attending an introductory workshop, please contact Yaseen Ali (firstname.lastname@example.org)