2020 is a very big year for the New College’s International Program Office as two incredibly successful programs are celebrating significant milestones.
IEP – 25 Years
The International English Program (IEP) offers students the opportunity to study English with other students like them. It’s available for students of all English levels, and provides educational, social, and cross-cultural experiences.
In 1995, IEP welcomed its first group of international youth students, and have welcomed thousands of students from over 80 different countries since.
IFP – 10 Years
The International Foundation Program (IFP) combines conditional acceptance to U of T with intensive English language instruction and academic skills development instruction, combined with for-credit courses. Successful completion of the IFP guarantees admission to many faculties, such as the Faculty of Arts & Science and the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.
In 2009, IFP invited its first cohort of 61 students. Since then, the IFP has grown and now has an annual enrolment of 200+ students per academic year.
As we celebrate these achievements, let’s also take a moment to celebrate the resource which has contributed most to that success – the dedicated staff.
Dmitry has been with the International Programs team since 2011 and stepped into his current role in 2015. Currently, Dmitry works with student registrations, assists in general administration, supports student services, and is actively involved in student recruitment initiatives and remote marketing strategies. Outside of work hours, you can find him around the streets of Toronto, taking photos.
As part of the English language teaching community, Tyson’s focus is on public spaces for exploring teacher identity and development. These primarily include spaces like #tleap (bitdo/tleap), 4CinELT (fourcca), and IATEFL Teacher Development Special Interest Group (tdsigorg). As a university EAP instructor, his main area of interest is collaborative and cooperative intensive reading. This manifests itself mostly through his work on the Critical Reading & Writing and Information in the Digital Era courses, and through authoring Academic Reading Circles.
Can you tell us about your professional background and your current role in the International Programs Office? How long have you been part of the IP team?
Dmitry Rudashevskiy: Hi! My name is Dmitry and I am a Student Recruitment Assistant at the International Programs Office. I have been working at this position full time since 2015 but I have been working at the IP Office in some capacity since 2011.
Tyson Seburn: I’ve been a part of the field of English Language Teaching (ELT) for basically my entire adult life, beginning in private language school sectors in Seoul and Toronto initially, then moving into our current university context about 10 years ago. I’m currently the Coordinator of the International Association of Foreign Language Teachers (IATEFL) Teacher Development Special Interest Group and do various teacher training gigs here and there throughout the world. I’ve been with IP since 2010 in various roles: instructor, lead instructor, program coordinator, and now Assistant Academic Director of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences stream of the IFP.
Many IP students are away from home for the first time. Can you tell us how the IP office and staff provide personal support for these students, in addition to the academic support?
D.R.: IP Office Student Life Team does an amazing job supporting students attending all our programs. Those supports differ depending on whether we are working with a 13-year-old IEP student that is visiting for 4 weeks to learn English or an 18 year old full-time undergraduate student. From personalized advising sessions and workshops, to field trips and fun events at the Toronto Island, our teams makes sure that every student is supported in the best possible way.
T.S.: In addition to specialized academic advising and learning support for specific students, our office provides a wide range of student life programming, which aims to connect students together socially, support mental health, and integrate them into the wider university’s support system.
Following the last question, many students have said they’ve found the little things – like learning to maneuver within a university environment and how to communicate with fellow students and staff – very helpful. How essential is for these programs to be both academically fulfilling but also socially engaging?
T.S.: One part does not make a whole. Students not only need to be guided towards and equipped with tools for academic success, but they can use that bridge we provide to create a social and support system of friends and colleagues. Coming from other cultures, some students can find this an equally challenging landscape to navigate as their studies is on their own.
D.R.: It is absolutely essential. Any high-school graduate will have a hard time adjusting to the new community, new way of learning and the new structure of our university. What is key though, is to identify what supports are the best fit for the students’ needs. What works for one student will never work for another and it is our job to figure out the best way to support any given student in any given situation.
As we mark these anniversaries, can you take a moment to reflect on what you feel has made the IEP so successful? What about the IFP?
T.S.: For IEP, I think it has something to do with the vibe of these short summer programs: they’re a unique club that international students belong to where long-lasting memories with a wide diversity of friendships are begun through share experiences in and out of classes. For IFP, I believe it’s the combination of our program model pedagogy, the departmental collaboration between our courses and instructors toward a specific goal of helping students who’d otherwise not qualify for UofT studies succeed, and the tailored in-house support our expertises afford specifically for international students whose primary language of communication is not English.
D.R.: That is easy. What makes our programs successful is the people. Every single one of us is genuinely interested in making these programs the best on the planet. Over time, with hard work and dedication, I believe we will be able to achieve that.
As we look toward a future that will be indelibly marked by the current pandemic, what do you see in store for the International Programs in the coming years?
D.R.: Impossible to say for sure. What I do know, is that we have some amazing ideas about how to not only mitigate the effects of the pandemic but also make certain aspects of the programs stronger than ever. I cannot wait to start rolling those out soon.
T.S.: I see us leading the way in adapting face-to-face language and academic skills development pedagogies into an online learning environment. While I hope this doesn’t become our norm long-term, it will provide much needed reflections on how to best serve international students in a university setting.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment while working in the IP office?
T.S.: That would be a better question for the instructors who have been with our program for several years to answer about me.
D.R.: It has not happened yet 🙂
What is your favourite part of your job?
D.R.: The people. Working with a great team on things you care about is absolutely amazing.
T.S.: I’ve always enjoyed curriculum development, so while I can confidently say that is where I get a lot of my joy from at work, it’s also managing, collaborating with, and learning how to communicate effectively with a diverse range of instructors with a diverse set of interests and expertises.
Tell us something interesting about the IP team!
D.R.: We are incredibly multilingual. There are at least 10 different languages that our staff can speak collectively.
T.S.: We used to all fit where those beautiful 54 series classrooms in Wetmore basement currently are, back when that area was an old computer lab and a squishy claustrophobic set of hallways and random rooms.