Wednesday began with our final day of lecture as we moved toward creating our presentations for Friday.
We were visited by Michele Racine, professor of Industrial Relations at l’université Laval, who lectured on Quebec’s Immigration Policies — I was intrigued and looking forward to this talk having focused so much of my studies on the migrant experience. Quebec has it’s own immigration system separate from the rest of Canada, but both systems have similarities: a points system, a heavy emphasis placed on filling the needs of the labour market, and reward for those with higher education. Quebec places more emphasis on language requirements, specifically being able to speak French on top of English. Funnily enough, when it came down to the Q&A and I asked Racine how Quebec supports those immigrants who aren’t as readily equipped with high education degrees, he replied that the government wasn’t about to go and find jobs for these people, that it was up to their onus to keep trying and go back to school to upgrade their education. I thought he would talk about the types of social programs that I would hope the Quebec provincial government would encourage… A Japanese student asked why there was such a high importance placed on being able to speak French moreso than English, which caused Racine to be visibly rattled. His reply: because we are in Quebec! This answer of course did not take into account that most of the Japanese students aren’t as aware of the language politics and Quebec’s relationship with the rest of Canada, and the innocent question was not meant to anger anyone! ha As for the rest of the questions, Racine presented Quebec society as being completely well-functioning and fine and dandy on the basis of job satisfaction as a measure of adaptation. Hm.
Next was another U Laval prof, Christina Lazarova, who came in and discussed the role of youth and organized work. I found her to be a lot more accessible as a speaker because she welcomed questions throughout her presentation (as opposed as waving all questions to the end, like many others). She was able to incorporate very relevant everyday examples into her presentation, which was greatly appreciated and highly influenced our own group’s presentation on the topic.
Wednesday was a long day, with a viewing of a French film about a westerner travelling to Japan and working in a business corporation. I can attest to falling asleep to this experimental flick (as can a large group of others). Ended off the evening by visiting the campus bar: Le Pub, for their equivalent of UBC’s Pit night!
… which of course resulted in little sleep and a very groggy Thursday morning! Which was okay because we mainly worked on our presentations for Friday.
Working with others from other backgrounds has been one of the biggest takeaways from this conference. As an arts student at a North American university, I’m used to working in groups to collaborate on projects with students who are generally from the same faculty as me. But at JACAC, I was able to converse and work with those who study engineering, physics, industrial relations… the list goes on! It’s been interesting to trade ideas with those who think differently than a liberal arts students, and it’s been refreshing to hear varied perspectives especially cross-culturally. I’ve noticed that Canadian students tend to be more actively involved, giving our opinions, asking questions, and generally doing a lot of talking. This is in contrast to our Japanese friends, who tend to be more reserved, and will generally engage in conversation when directly asked. Being more aware of these kinds of cultural dynamics makes group facilitation different: knowing when to speak, when to take turns, when to ask questions… and all of this takes more time (especially as we are speaking in English, which isn’t everyone’s first language!)