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Around the world in five nights

January 18, 2016 10:45 A.M.

UNDERSTANDING comes from building personal connections. I am fortunate enough to have visited over 40 countries. I have been able to get a good taste of different languages and cultures and have endeavored to gain more than a superficial understanding.

Many people around the world speak English, which makes it easy to communicate almost anywhere. However, the reduced need to learn other languages can cause us to miss out on developing a deeper understanding and connection with different cultures.

Language and culture are inter-related. Some words and expressions are not easily translated. It takes a greater familiarity with a culture to fully appreciate more profound meanings and connotations.  Panos Athanasopoulos, Professor of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University, notes that different languages are better at expressing different things due to the specific values of the society speaking that language.

The culture shaped by the collective experience of the group of people shapes language which in turn shapes future generations.  "Bilingual parents may use a specific language to express an emotional concept because they feel that language provides a better cultural context for expressing the emotion. For example, a native Finnish speaker may be more likely to use English to tell her children that she loves them because it is uncommon to explicitly express emotions in Finnish."

Culture has been compared to an iceberg. Often, we only observe the tip of the iceberg while there is a lot more below the surface. The best way to start exploring below the surface is to get to know people from other cultures on a personal level. Everyone has unique perspectives and stories.

By developing relationships we can get insights into other cultures by seeing through the lens of their experience. Rather than applying broad stereotypes to large groups of people, we can relate to individual situations and begin to see how shared language and experiences may lead to some shared values and attitudes.

A multi-cultural population is a great feature of living in Kamloops. TRU is host to more than 1,750 international students from over 85 different countries. We have the ability to meet people from around the world right in our home town.

The TRUSU International Club is organizing a series of five bi-weekly social gatherings to provide an opportunity for people from all languages and cultures to come together and get to know each other on a personal level.

Meet people from around the world. Learn about geography, language and culture. If you have traveled, we invite you to share your experiences, pictures and artifacts. If you plan to travel this is a great opportunity to learn about places you plan to visit by talking to people who have been or lived there.

Social meetings - get to know people from around the world in a casual and friendly environment

Language exchange - help others to learn your language and get help with other languages

Cultural discussions – learn from each other by talking about different cultures

Ask questions anonymously - Sometimes it can be awkward to ask questions face to face. There can be feelings of ignorance or fear of being insensitive or offensive. Questions asked anonymously can be discussed by the group in a positive, constructive way.   Click on this link to submit an anonymous question or comment:        

Friday, Jan. 22    Theme: Europe & The Middle East
5:00-7:00pm         International Building: IB1015 

Friday, Feb. 5      Theme: The Americas

5:00-7:00pm         House of Learning: HOL190 (Barber Centre) 

Friday, Feb. 19    Theme: Asia

5:00-7:00pm         House of Learning: HOL190 (Barber Centre)

Friday, Mar. 4      Theme: Africa

5:00-7:00pm         House of Learning: HOL190 (Barber Centre)

Friday, April 1     Theme: Australia & The South Pacific

5:00-7:00pm         House of Learning: HOL190 (Barber Centre)

If you are not familiar with the TRU campus, please feel free to ask for directions. Parking is free after 5 p.m. The campus is safe, well-lit and easy to navigate once you get oriented.

If you plan to attend please RSVP to Everyone is encouraged to bring something for “show & tell”. If you have photos to share, please e-mail them to me.

James Gjaltema is a founding member of the Kamloops Travel Club and a Flight Centre Associate. He can be reached at 250-879-0873 or through his website:

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