A buckling and box stepping welcome for international students

International Student Ministries of Halifax held a line-dancing event to help foreign student adjust to life in Halifax.

line dancing

International Student Ministries of Halifax held a line-dancing event last Saturday at the First Baptist Church. This event was one of a series of Saturday events to support the international student community in Halifax.

The organization relies on volunteer support to help run events such as line-dancing.

“We know a couple people who can teach line-dancing and it was of some interest to the group. We have done line-dancing before and the students seemed to enjoy it,” said Chi Perrie, a co-ordinator of the International Student Ministries of Halifax.

Some of the international students had tried line-dancing before when the group introduced it last year. Others had never done it before but were willing to try something new.

One of the volunteers, Susan Page, helped lead the group by demonstrating the steps to the students and staff. Once all the individual steps were taught, the music was played and they put the whole dance together.


line dancing
Susan Page, a volunteer, writes out the line-dancing steps. (Photo Credit: Samantha Calio)

“We like to introduce something fun. We’ve done board games, cooking and a variety of other activities, it varies every week,” said Chi Perrie.

International Student Ministries of Canada are a faith-based organization that partner with local churches to allow international students to explore beliefs. They also put emphasis on wanting a loving, supportive environment for international students to feel welcome in their new home.

“My wife and I both experienced what it was like to be international students in another country, so we have empathy towards people who come from far away and don’t have a support group,” said Will Perrie, a co-ordinator of the International Student Ministries of Halifax.

They provide a potluck meal for the students as well as hold discussion groups to help the students with communication skills and discuss faith.

“We have had students from all different faith backgrounds such as Muslim or Buddhist, we accept everyone,” said Chi Perrie.

Every week Will Perrie prepares a discussion topic that is led by a volunteer in small groups. They use the Bible to reference topics and engage the students in exploring different topics through faith.

“I can meet new people and get involved through these events. They have also been helping me get a new job,” said Ada Hika, an Ethiopian refugee from Hong Kong.

The organization has recently turned to Kijiji as a form of social media and to advertise the line-dancing event.

The popularity of the events fluctuate depending on the time of year and the event. They find that during exam periods fewer people will come. They also find that they are competing with university held events.

Will and Chi Perrie are also looking for Canadian students to come to events to teach international students about Canadian culture.

Events are held every Saturday at 6 p.m. at the First Baptist Church. Event information can be found at ismchalifax.ca.