SAIT International Centre organizes monthly birthday bash to celebrate student diversity

SAIT Students at Birthday bash event hosted by the International Centre on Feb.8, 2024.(Photo by GurSodhi/The Press

Birthdays should never be spent alone, but for international and out-of-province students, it can be another reminder of just how far away your loved ones are.

To combat that, SAIT’s International Centre recently launched a birthday bash event held in the last week of every month. The event is held in four, 30-minute sessions, ensuring the maximum number of students can attend without feeling overwhelmed due to big crowds and also to accommodate varied class schedules.

The event is open to any student who has a birthday during that month and includes complimentary food and refreshments, a cake-cutting ceremony, music, and a photo session at the end. While students must register beforehand, staff is flexible and can sometimes take walk-ins, depending on the number of people attending.

“It does not matter if your birthday is in January, February, or November; you will be given the same opportunities and celebration at the event,” said student engagement coordinator, Shannon Erwin.

“Everyone feels happy that they are being acknowledged and celebrated.”

 The international student population is a vital part of the SAIT community, says Erwin, and it is important to make sure they know how much SAIT appreciates them.

According to the Centre of Innovation in Campus Mental Health, international students often experience higher levels of loneliness, anxiety, and stress compared to their domestic counterparts. Along with that, being away from home, financial constraints, and language barriers pose further challenges.

To combat that, SAIT’s International Centre has launched various events like orientations, welcome fairs, speed-friending sessions, and karaoke and wing nights. The aim is to provide a supportive and inclusive environment for students from more than 140 countries.

The birthday celebrations are kept as similar as possible in terms of themes to ensure fairness and each participant gets a birthday card upon arrival.

While this event has been successful, the International Centre is always working to improve it and make it more inclusive.

“We are trying to bring more egg-free options, as we’ve had some students come to us that are allergic to eggs,” said Erwin, addressing student concerns.

The event also provides plenty of networking opportunities, and students are encouraged to bring one friend with them so that they can celebrate and feel included.

“For the two years that I’ve been at SAIT, away from home, I have missed my family so much, and this event has made me feel like I matter and included,” said SAIT student Lesley Mushabe.

Erwin emphasizes that international students make up a large chunk of SAIT’s student population and it is imperative they feel appreciated, saying that this event is just another way of supporting the student experience at SAIT.

“My birthday celebration with the International Centre at SAIT was a wonderful experience,” said Mieraf Lolamo, a student at SAIT’s School of Business. “The sense of community and shared celebration made it a memorable occasion for everyone involved too.”

About Gur Sodhi 1 Article
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Gur Sodhi is working as a writer for The Press in 2024.