Weekends in Winnipeg

International Center teams up with UND Colleges to provide concentrated international experiences north of the border

About 35 students – mostly freshmen – from the UND Department of Aviation -- piled into a bus on Sept. 16 for a daylong journey north of the border. The trip was the first of many “Weekends in Winnipeg” trips organized by the UND International Center as a way to give students an accessible international experience.

About 35 students – mostly freshmen – from the UND Department of Aviation piled into a bus on Sept. 16 for a daylong journey north of the border. The trip was the first of many “Weekends in Winnipeg” trips organized by the UND International Center as a way to give students an accessible international experience. Photo courtesy of Paul Wesp.

When in Winnipeg, Abby Jarve decided to do as the natives do.

She walked along the Red River waterfront of the beautiful Provencher Bridge, did some shopping in the historic hub of The Forks, and ate her fill of fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds.

Katie Davidson

Katie Davidson, director of the UND International Center

“We got poutine, which was amazing,” said Jarve, a senior in UND Commercial Aviation and Aviation Management. “We were at a restaurant that only sold poutine – that’s all it sold. So it was pretty good.”

Jarve was one of 35 students – mostly freshmen – from the UND Department of Aviation who piled into a bus on Sept. 16 for a daylong journey north of the border. The trip was the first of many “Weekends in Winnipeg” trips organized by the UND International Center as a way to give students an accessible international experience.

“Being able to go to Winnipeg for a day will hopefully get students excited to see what else is out there,” International Center Director Katie Davidson said. “If they spend one day in Canada, who’s to say they won’t spend a week in Japan during Spring Break, or a summer in Spain? That’s the goal.”

Elizabeth Bjerke

Elizabeth Bjerke, associate dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

“Aviation truly is a global industry, and many of our students are attracted to aviation because of their love to travel and explore new places,” said Beth Bjerke, associate dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. “This opportunity helps expose them to the process of crossing an international border and getting to experience Canada.”

Every UND College has agreed to sponsor a weekend trip for its students, covering the cost of travel and admission to any educational stop specific to the College. The aviation crew visited the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, which houses Canadian aircraft and aviation projects of past eras.

“They told us a lot about the relationships between the U.S. and Canada and between their aircrafts during and after the World Wars,” Jarve said. “It was fun to hear the stories.”

“I wish we could have stayed even longer at the air museum,” said Commercial Aviation student Jose Brooks, who was seeing Winnipeg for the first time.

From the air museum, the bus took the students to the cultural hub of Winnipeg, The Forks, where they had freedom to roam and take in a new nation. And even though it’s only two-and-a-half hours away, Jarve said, it’s certainly not like home.

“For example, they call the bathrooms washrooms, and they have all of their distances and speeds in kilometers. Canadian culture is a lot different,” she said. “It’s important to see what’s around you.”

Winnipeg

A look at downtown Winnipeg just after sundown shows the hustle and bustle of nightlife about to ignite.

Hot ticket

The Canada outings have been a hot ticket.

The sign-up sheet for Aviation’s trip filled up in an hour, and the Graduate School excursion set for Sept. 30 already has a waiting list. Davidson anticipates the seats for upcoming fall trips for Arts & Sciences and Engineering will be quickly claimed as well.

Bjerke teaches UND’s Aviation Orientation class, a one-credit new student experience class required for all aviation majors. These students must complete professional development and campus engagement activities for class credit, and since this trip checked off both boxes, Bjerke had no problem filling a bus.

“Research proves that students need integrate both academically and socially into their new university in order to be successful and retained in the program,” she said. “When I was approached by the International Center about this opportunity, it made sense to market it my orientation class.”

Davidson adds the program was designed, in part, to assist Colleges with internationalization efforts as they help meet Goal 5 of the One UND Strategic Plan – fostering an inclusive campus climate.

“Most of our Colleges have accreditation requirements that include a global perspective of some sort,” she said. “So this is good for the Colleges, too, to get their students out and about and seeing the world.”

Part of a recent visit to Winnipeg by UND students included a stop at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, which houses Canadian aircraft and aviation projects of past eras.

Part of a recent visit to Winnipeg by UND students included a stop at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, which houses Canadian aircraft and aviation projects of past eras. Photo courtesy of Paul Wesp.

New friends, new perspectives

“Weekends in Winnipeg” will continue in the fall semester with trips for the Colleges of Business and Public Administration, Education and Nursing. And new students like Brooks, who came to UND from Phoenix, Ariz., will gain more than a stamp on a passport.

Probably the best part of the trip was meeting new people that go to UND,” Brooks said. “I got to know someone pretty well by pairing up together as travel buddies.”

Jarve, who took on an upperclassman leadership role on the trip, said the long bus ride nurtured several new connections.

“A lot of the newer students had some questions that I could answer about UND. A couple of the girls on the trip are in the same club as me – Women in Aviation,” she said. “It gives you a friendly face to see, so you can talk about a similar experience that you had.”

Davidson said when a group is experiencing something together – maybe a border crossing, a tale of flight history, or gravy fries – it bonds them. She points to one conversation among two international students and one from Indiana.

“They were talking about seeing Winnipeg through the eyes of an international student versus an American student. Their impressions of the city were very different,” she remembered. “Just having them share those perspectives with each other as they’re experiencing new things together is really interesting.”