22 squares showing summer school students and their country's flag are seen on a Zoom screen.

Akaila Reid was introduced to Humber College’s three-week Virtual Global Summer School through an Instagram post earlier this year. She happened to be looking for an elective course to fulfil a requirement in the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care degree program and it seemed like a perfect fit. 

“I saw all the different course options and they seemed really interesting. I looked into the Health and Wellness Concepts course, and it described exactly what I wanted to do,” said Reid. 

The course is geared towards those interested in increasing their ability to assess health and wellness, increase inclusivity and collaborate through group work. 

“Our professor was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the subject and about other countries. He could say hello in a few languages,” said Reid. 

Akaila Reid leans on a short cement wall, looking sideways up at the sun and smiling. She wears a white top and colourful skirt

Reid had the opportunity to take a unique summer course outside of her regular Humber program and faculty scope and learned through experiential collaboration with other students around the world. 

Humber’s Virtual Global Summer School 2021 brought 146 Humber students together with 114 non-Humber students from more than 30 countries, to participate in courses offered from all six faculties in a cross-campus, International initiative. 

Traditionally held in-person, the Humber Global Summer School includes hands-on work, a full social itinerary and, for those visiting from out of the country, a stay in Humber residences. 

“We were all geared up for 2020 when the pandemic hit, so we thought, ‘How can we innovate this for a virtual atmosphere?” said Rebecca Trautwein, manager of Global Learning and Engagement. 

“We set up an inclusive environment even before the participants started their classes. We created a social, online forum to help them get to know one another and get those preliminary jitters out of their systems." 

Nancy Huang sits behind a desk smiling with her chin resting on her hand. She has long black hair.

Alongside academic learning, Humber International also planned special events for students, including a cooking class with a Humber College student and her mother, who welcomed the participants from all over the world into their kitchen. 

“One of our events was global karaoke, but we weren’t sure how it would go. Karaoke can be awkward, even in person. As soon as we started there were students from Indonesia requesting songs, ‘Can you play Drake? Can you play The Weeknd?’. They were rapping every word and showed us popular music from their country, too. You could feel the connections and community being built globally.” 

The session went so well, the group created a Global Summer School playlist

Global Summer School saw an increase in enrollment this year as organizers delivered unique and flexible learning experiences online. The program’s reach continues to grow as students use what they learned in their own communities. 

Nancy Hwang, an overseas education agent from China, was offered the opportunity to attend the virtual school this summer and expected the experience to improve her knowledge of Canadian college courses so she could better assist her students. 

Nancy Hwang's summer school project, a woven grass basket, is shown in three pictures -at the beach, near a road and in progress

“It was my first experience at a Canadian institution, and I was introduced to a different kind of thinking. It wasn’t just skills – the course really opened my mind,” she said. 

The Children, Play and Creativity class she chose also benefited the people around her. Hwang teaches lessons for children at her church. 

“Now I know how to create a course for the children and inspire them to use their imagination, experience nature and develop.” 

Her experience also gave her the confidence to start creatively incorporating English language lessons. 

Virtual Global Summer School organizers – and this year’s students – are looking forward to the 2022 iteration of the initiative, whatever form that takes.