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West College Scotland proudly hosted its inaugural cross-campus International Mother Language Day events, marking a significant milestone in promoting linguistic and cultural diversity within the college community. The events, held across three campuses, aimed to raise awareness, and celebrate multilingualism, engaging over 200 ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students.

IMLD Paisley Group Resized

International Mother Language Day, a global observance, underscores the importance of linguistic diversity in fostering mutual understanding and respect. In line with this ethos, the College’s Wellbeing department collaborated with various departments including, Sport and Hospitality to deliver a series of inclusive activities spanning three days.

Student Wellbeing Manager, Sandra Docherty, commented,

International Mother Language Day presented the perfect opportunity to further engage our ESOL students with the College community by introducing them to a range of initiatives that are available all year long through our Active Campus Co-ordinator and Wellbeing teams.

'Through excellent collaborative working our Wellbeing Advisors and Counsellors have since had referrals of ESOL students who have faced great difficulty with conflict and war."

The diverse program included morning welcome sessions, sporting events including table tennis, badminton, and basketball, where ESOL students were paired with sports students for a buddy setup, fostering camaraderie and mutual support. These interactive sessions facilitated cultural exchange and provided an enriching experience for all participants..

Speaking to the Sports students about their experiences they emphasised the value of cross-departmental interaction and cultural exchange facilitated by the event. They lauded the opportunity to coach older individuals, broadening their coaching experience and contributing to a vibrant learning environment.

Active Campus Co-Ordinator Savannah Antoine, commented,

The barriers to sports participation of ethnicity, religion and language can be huge and to see a small idea of mine fully come to life has been so rewarding.

'But it wouldn’t have been possible without the buy in of those who collaborated.”

Wellbeing Activities included, mindfulness/aromatherapy sessions and the sharing of Wellbeing words to help the students ask for support. Also included were introductions to Scottish slang terms, which brought lots of laughs as the students tried to work out their meanings.  Networking over refreshments provided by the College's Hospitality students further enhanced the sense of community and inclusivity.

Lilian Okoduwa, an ESOL Intermediate student from Spain, expressed her appreciation for the Wellbeing workshop, citing its positive impact on her mental health and cultural understanding, “I really enjoyed the Wellbeing workshop as I’d never done anything like that before.

It really helped me understand how to better take care of my mental health and manage any anxiety.

'I also loved learning about different Scottish slang – I’ve definitely learned a few new phrases I didn’t know before!”. 

Similarly, Natalia Skoromna from Ukraine praised the event, highlighting its contribution to her relaxation and desire for regular sessions. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect but it has been so much better than I thought – I’ve loved it! It has been a really good morning and has really helped my mental health, I already feel much more relaxed.

The lecturers have been wonderful - me and my friends would love to be able to do this every week, every Friday if possible!.

Reflecting on the day's activities, Faranak Nasr, an Upper Intermediate ESOL student, commended the inclusive nature of the event, particularly enjoying the badminton session and expressing interest in future sports clubs.

Jim McAllister Head of Language, Business and Leisure Industries commented, “Overall, these events exemplified the institution's commitment to diversity, inclusion, and holistic student development.

By bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds, the college continues to foster a sense of belonging and mutual respect within its community.

'Huge well done and thank you to everyone involved in making these events happen.”