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Student Success

Niagara College International Staff Connect | February 2019

(Vol. 4, Issue 6)


Maxine (bottom left) and Craig (bottom right) with Elisa (centre) on a trip to Northern Canada.

As Family Day fell on February 18 and celebrated the importance of families, it is quite fitting to reflect on the familial bonds created by NC through its Homestay program. “The best moment of my experience in Canada was that I met Maxine and Craig; they will be my second mum and dad forever,” shared Elisa Meyer, from Nienburg, Germany who attend NC fall 2018 on a semester exchange from Hochschule Bremen. 

NC’s manager of cultural & global engagement, Maxine Semple—Ozog, and her husband Craig did not originally plan to host Meyer, but her original homestay was not able to accommodate an earlier than scheduled arrival for her. As the student was connected to Semple—Ozog through the semester exchange program, she hosted Meyer for her first few days in Niagara and the situation ended up becoming permanent after a short period of time. 

“Living with Elisa was great in helping me understand not just her German culture, which was far more similar to Canadian culture than I had anticipated, but what was most beneficial was having Elisa share her academic and student experience with me,” said Semple—Ozog. “Each day she would come home, we would talk about how her classes were, what she was learning, what she enjoyed or what was challenging. Professionally, it was great to have Elisa with me to become better connected to the student experience.”

Semple-Ozog shared that Meyer also taught her that it is not just the country that leads to life-changing experiences while studying or living abroad – it’s the people you meet along the way: “The people who you find in those countries that make you feel surrounded by love and comforted by the distance you have between yourself and everything else you’ve ever known. It reminded me how incredibly lucky I have been to have been cared for by people who I parachuted into their lives for months at a time and felt like they were always there for me. I trust we brought that comfort to Elisa during her time in Canada.”

Genuinely loving Meyer like a daughter, Semple-Ozog expressed that Meyer fit in with her family perfectly and explained how difficult it was to say goodbye to the German exchange student this past December. “In my life, it was always me saying goodbye and leaving people I loved in an airport as I excitedly bounced to my next adventure. To be on the other side of that hug, taught me how hard it is to be the one who is left behind cheerleading from home. I’ll be sure to hang on to those hugs just a bit longer now, knowing this feeling.” 

Meyer echoed this sentiment of sadness over saying goodbye to her homestay family. 

“An amazing moment for me was definitely the last day, my back-flight day. I cried the whole time and had to say goodbye to such amazing people, which love me like their own child as I love them like my real mum and dad,” said Meyer. “But I know there is now a second place I can call my home and I know I can always come back to.”

Referring to the Ozog family as her heroes, Meyer shared how she highly recommends the homestay program. “The best part is you may have a second family at the end of the adventure like I did,” said Meyer. “When you are hundreds of kilometres away from your home country and also don’t speak fluently English or in general the language, a homestay family will help you a lot and support you. Firstly, you are not completely alone at home, you have your homestay family and you can talk with them and practice speaking English. You will also get to see and know more about the country’s culture, food, behavior, and a lot of more.” Meyer also expressed what a pleasure it was to meet her homestay’s extended family and have “have new Granny’s, aunts and uncles.”

Now in Estonia interning at the German Embassy, Meyer expanded on how her experiences in Canada helped shape her professionally and allowed her to develop a deeper understanding of the different work mentalities and business operation in other parts of the world: “At Niagara College I was able to meet people from many other cultures, Asias, Latin Americas, Europeans, Americans and also Canadians. Having a better understanding how they communicate and work will help me a lot if I will work in global teams or in cooperation with them. Now I can feel more and have a better understanding of their problems or communication.”

Meyer also was exposed to new holidays and Canadian customs. Never having had a Thanksgiving dinner before, Semple-Ozog prepared a traditional dinner similar to the ones her mother would have if she was home. “She loved everything, and every bit was followed by the exclamation of “oh my, what is this”,” said Semple-Ozog. “After being absolutely stuffed like a turkey ourselves, I told Elisa that it wasn’t Thanksgiving unless we had my mandatory turkey sandwich after dinner. I made us each a sandwich and we giggled about how full we were as we continued to eat, the best part of the meal, – an after dinner turkey sandwich.” 

Reflecting on her Homestay experience and memories of Meyer, Semple-Ozog shared, “Elisa was our gift of 2018.”

Word from the Watercooler

  • Every February, Canadians celebrate Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month. Be sure to check out NC International’s Instagram page to learn more of just a few of the many achievements and contributions of African Americans throughout history.
  •  Guhan, Gulsah and big sister Ela are ecstatic to have welcomed Sean Yusa Ilgazli into the world! Baby Sean arrived two and a half weeks early on the 28th of January, 2019 weighing 2800 grams, and measuring 19 inches.  Congratulations to Guhan and family.
  •  Rayanne Brooks has gained interest in creating rock art project over the past few months! Inspired by other peoples’ artwork and Pinterest boards, she has been collecting driftwood and shells while on her camping trips over the years and has found a way to use them in developing her creative abilities. She is always looking for interestingly shaped rocks for her upcoming pieces of art, so if you happen to see one in your travels – pass it along to Rayanne and help share nature’s beauty.

Shout outs for a job well-done:

 “Thank you Sasha Gora and Andrea Joseph for all of their hard work and long hours to make the UNESCO-UNEVOC visit such a success and putting NC on the map!”


New and revised Severe Weather policy and procedure.

A message from Pam Skinner, Vice President, Corporate Services: 

Niagara College’s Severe Weather Closures policy has recently been updated, and a related Severe Weather – Staff Attendance procedure has been created. These updates are part of a larger college initiative to review, revise and update Niagara College’s policies and procedures.

Read more
New staff, faculty join Business, Hospitality and Environmental Division.

A message from Vivian Kinnaird, dean, Business, Hospitality and Environment:
The Business, Hospitality and Environment division welcomes three individuals into new roles with the College.

Julie Samson, academic business manager

Teri Canestraro, faculty, hospitality

Nick Farnell, faculty, business analytics

Please join me in welcoming Teri, Nick and Julie to their roles!

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Katie McQuestion joins Niagara College as Campus Safety and Emergency Management Coordinator

A message from David Jastrubecki, manager, Campus Security and Parking:

I’m pleased to share that Katie McQuestion will be joining the Campus Safety team in the new role of Campus Safety and Emergency Management Coordinator, starting Feb. 19.

Katie comes to the college from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, where she served as manager of stakeholder relations and learning design. 

Please join me in welcoming Katie to the Niagara College community.

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New structure, model for Communications Department.

Message from Michael Wales, Manager, Communications:

As we enter 2019, I wanted to provide an update from the Communications department, as we’ve had a few changes to our team and structure, and we’re moving to a new model in terms of how we support college-wide communications.

Team Changes:

Julie Greco took on the new role of Communications Consultant this fall. Julie joined the College in 2011 as a writer/editor and her most recent role was communications specialist.

Jess Torok joined the College as Communications Specialist in late November.

Andrew Korchok, who joined the college in November 2017 as Communications/Media Advisor, has taken on the new role of Communications Consultant.

Read more
Student Services welcomes new associate director.

Message from Lianne Gagnon, director, Student Services

I am pleased to announce that Shari Walsh will join the Student Services team as associate director of Student Engagement, Academic Advising, and Career Services at the WellandCampus, effective March 4.

Read more


(In Case You Missed it)
Save the date. Day of reflection is Thursday, April 25.
NEW SESSION ADDED: Voluntary naloxone training for NC staff at NOTL Campus
NC’s ESL programs earn internationally-recognized re-accreditation
The Welland Tribune: Niagara College students to build school in Ecuador
Mood Walks continue in winter semester
Soups On! event serves up $4,000 annually to students
NC partners with UNESCO-UNEVOC on best practices for teacher education, use of digital technology
Students meet global leaders, discuss world issues at Toronto Global Forum
Please direct all media inquiries and other external communications to International’s communications consultant, Julie Greco.  
Julie can be reached at 905-735-2211 x 7368, or via email

Student Success

NC Experience: "I made a lot of new friends through the English for Academic Preparation program and also met friendly and kind teachers, who were always ready to help at any moment.”

-Anna Savchuk (Class valedictorian)
(English for Academic Preparation -Level 5)
Hometown: Ukraine

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