Exchange students from Costa Rica reflect on their experience at the U of R

“It has changed my life,” says Veronica Segura Picado of San Jose, Costa Rica. Luis Bolanos Gomez, of the Province of Alajuela, Costa Rica agrees, “It was just amazing.” Veronica and Luis are summing up their time here as exchange students from the University of Costa Rica.

The two students arrived in Regina in the frigid temperatures of late December. “We didn’t know anything about Saskatchewan and we were counting the days to come here,” says Luis. “We were expecting a big city, but no… We were not expecting the flat land,” says Luis, with his hands outlining the horizon.

Veronica adds, “Our first reaction when we got out of the plane was, ‘Snow!’ We were super excited.” Luis adds, “We don’t have snow in Costa Rica!”

After spending a winter semester at the University of Regina, however, Veronica admits there were times she didn’t like the cold weather. “Twice, I froze my feet and I was at the point of wanting to cry, ‘Why am I here?'” Luis, however, maintains that, “winter was amazing.”

At the University of Costa Rica, Veronica is in her 4th year of a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English (as a second language), with only one semester left to finish. Luis is finished his Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English and will convocate in August. Competency in the English language is important in Costa Rica. Luis says, “It is a must to speak English if you want to get a good job.” Veronica adds, “International companies are coming to Costa Rica and you have to know English to get a job.” Their aim in becoming exchange students was to improve their English: “We wanted to go to a country where they speak English. We wanted to come and practice and learn.” When their exchange coordinator told them about Canada, they said, “Yah!”

While at the University of Regina, Veronica took Linguistics and Diversity, English as a Second Language, and Introduction to Dance Education. Luis took English as a Second Language, Self and Other, and Acting Theory and Practice. When asked about the highlight of their time here, Veronica responded, “Everything! It has changed my life.” Before she came here, Veronica says, “I didn’t really like children.” But volunteer work with ESL and ELL students gave her a new perspective. She says, “Oh, it changed my life, working with children from Syria, Africa, China, Korea; for me it was just amazing. I also did work teaching Spanish, being the teacher of Spanish with 29 kids—all of them speak English—it was amazing because they got super engaged with the classes.” When the class was over, Veronica was touched when her students said, “We [will] miss you a lot…will you eventually come back to teach us Spanish again?” Veronica says, “Now I love children.”

For Luis, “the most amazing experience here is the multicultural environment, like knowing people from all over the world, knowing differences about culture, everything about those experiences that make people, people.” Veronica agrees, “Here in a multicultural environment, I have met people from 34 different nationalities and that is really of value to me. I learned to be super tolerant of differences because here you have different cultures and you know how to live with that, like being patient.”

For instance, Luis says, “We know a guy from Japan who is so on time for everything, but for us we are, so very relaxed. Same, for example, with hugs and kisses, we are used to that; every time we see somebody and say goodbye to somebody, we hug and kiss, but here, with most of the countries, they are like ‘no, just bye.’ Being tolerant and understanding that there is a completely different world from our culture and the world we know to be there—it opens your mind.”

As for difficulties, Veronica and Luis agreed that stereotypes were a negative aspect of their experience here. They offer this advice: “If you don’t know where someone is from, just ask; don’t make assumptions based on appearance.” Costa Rica is not the same as Puerto Rico, and is not in Mexico or Africa. “At the beginning it was kind of fun, but when a bunch of people don’t know anything about your country… it feels better if you ask, just ask.”

Other learning included becoming more confident, and more independent. Veronica says, “Every day you have to cook for yourself; you learn how to live by yourself; you have to be independent. This experience has been the experience in my life!” Luis adds, “It was just amazing. Here you learn to have more confidence. The first week here, the university was closed, and we had to start meeting people. We had to find and get to know people. It was a great experience…really helpful. One of the best experiences of my life.”

Both Luis and Veronica stayed in the residence, which they found added to their experience. Veronica says, “Residence is so good: the activities they prepare for you, and exposure with other people are really good.” Luis adds, “Exchange students are super close. There are students from Brazil, Italy,…we speak English when we are together.” Luis values, “all the friends that we made, people that we will never forget, who will stay in our memories forever.” Veronica agrees and adds, “People from Canada, you are so amazing—I love Canadians. You are so kind and you are willing to help people, no matter what, you are always willing to help people. It’s amazing.”

Veronica plans to return. She says, “if everything goes well, I will be here in May next year to, eventually, take my Master’s here. I love Regina.” As for Luis, he plans “to go all over the world, visit all my friends, and eventually come back to Canada. Why not!”


fYrefly in Schools receives Prairieaction Youth Leadership Award

(L-R) Minister of Social Services Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Christian Andrew, Lieutenant Governor Her Honour Vaughn Solomon Schofield, Chair of Prairieaction Lisa Broda, fYrefly in Schools Director James McNinch, and Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth, Corey O’Soup (Photo credit: Carolyn Spiers, Office of the Lieutenant Governor)

fYrefly in Schools has been awarded a Youth Leadership Award from Prairieaction Foundation (PAF). This is the first year that PAF invited applications for Youth Leadership Awards, which recognize youth and youth initiatives that address safety by promoting healthy relationships and anti-violence initiatives.

The award and a cheque for $3,000 was presented by the Lieutenant-Governor the Honourable Vaughn Solomon Schofield at Government House on May l5, 2017. Christian Andrew, a trans fYrefly summer student (and a secondary English pre-intern in the Faculty of Education), accepted the award and spoke briefly about the work fYrefly is doing to give voice to marginalized youth. Director of fYrefly in Schools Dr. James McNinch reports that during a conversation, the Lieutenant Governor said “she was aware of the good work we were doing and would like to know of any events that she might attend.”

fYrefly in Schools will be using the award money to fund two Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) mini-conferences in Saskatoon and Regina. McNinch says, “GSA members and student leaders will gather to learn about gender and sexual equity and strategies to make their schools more welcoming and inclusive to gender and sexually diverse students.” (One was held in Saskatoon last weekend). A Regina GSA mini-conference will be held on May 27, 2017.

Prairieaction Foundation has an interesting history dating back to the 1989 mass murder of women at a polytechnique in Montreal. The prairie-based non-profit is dedicated to reducing violence and abuse in our society.

(L-R) Lieutenant Governor Her Honour Vaughn Solomon Schofield, U of R and fYrefly student Christian Andrew, and Chair of Prairieaction Lisa Broda (Photo credit: Carolyn Spiers, Office of the Lieutenant Governor)

Announcement: Acting Dean of Education

Following consultation with the Faculty of Education, and the recommendation of the Education Search Advisory Committee, the University has appointed Dr. Andrea Sterzuk, Associate Professor, Language and Literacy Education as Acting Dean of Education for a one-year period effective 1 July 2017.

A brief biography of Dr Sterzuk is available on the Appointments and Renewals webpage at

Updates on the search for the Dean of Education are available at


Thomas Chase
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)


Early childhood preservice educators enjoy time at Henry Janzen

Janzen Hosts Fun Evening with U of R Students

On Tuesday, March 28, Henry Janzen School hosted students from the University of Regina, Faculty of Education, ECE 325 class for an evening of fun and learning. The university students were enrolled in an Early Childhood Education course focusing on experiential learning or learning by doing. Part of the the course work was to create a hands-on experience, an invitation, connected to the curriculum for children in Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 3.

The parents and families had a wonderful time exploring the invitations. The university students enjoyed the opportunity to share their invitations iwth the families and receive feedback on how children and adults interacted with the materials they had shared. It was an excellent collaboration.

by Jackie Sakatch, Grade 1 Teacher, Henry Janzen (Published in an RBE newsletter)


New appointment to Bac program

Jean Dufresne has accepted the position as term lecturer in the BAC program.

Jean has been serving the Faculty of Education and the BAC since beginning his secondment in 2003. He is an outstanding teacher educator and an important member of the BAC team. Students appreciate his passion for teaching and learning, the French language and cultural support he provides to them, his accessibility and his mentorship. He is very well respected by colleagues across the University and within the Regina Catholic, Public and CEF School Divisions. We are very pleased that he is willing to take on the two-year term lecturer position as his secondment is coming to an end and he will be retiring from RCS at the end of June. Please join me in expressing appreciation to Jean for his willingness to take on this role and continue his support for BAC students.


Faculty member recipient of G.M. Dunlop Distinguished Contribution Award

Dr. Jenn deLugt is the recipient of the Canadian Association for Educational Psychology’s (CAEP) G.M. Dunlop Distinguished Contribution Award for her doctoral thesis, titled Beyond Words: How Learning to Read and Mental Health are Related for Struggling Readers.

Along with the recognition this award conveys, Jenn will also receive a year’s membership in CAEP and an honorarium. She will receive the award on Tuesday, May 30 at the CAEP Annual General Meeting, and has been invited to share her work at the annual Wine and Cheese on May 29, 2017.


Loss of a colleague | Dr. Sean Atkins

It is with great sadness that we convey the news of the passing of Dr. Sean Atkins, partner of Dr. Christine Massing, who passed away late afternoon on Friday, April 14, surrounded by his loved ones and family.

A Memorial Gathering for Sean will take place this Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. at La Rotunda, LI 216 of the University of Regina.

The following is Sean Atkins’ obituary:

Sean Howard Atkins, PhD

April 20, 1969 – April 14, 2017

Sean passed away in Regina after a mercifully short illness. His passing will be mourned by his beloved wife Christine Massing and dear son Devin Atkins; parents Allan Atkins (Gail) and Andrea Atkins: brothers Ashley (Sunshine), Brent, and Harrison Atkins; and his in-laws Carole and Duane Massing. Sean was a devoted husband and father and friend to many. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends, and by his former and present students and colleagues at U of A, MacEwan University, and U of R.

Sean spent his growing years in Toronto. He treasured his years attending and working in summer camps where he developed a passion for canoe tripping and hiking. An inveterate historian, he took his BA at McGill, his MA and PhD at U of A, and his BEd at OISE. Sean was a scholar and committed teacher; a man in constant and restless search for meaning in life and for understanding of his place and responsibility to the earth. He loved being in the Rockies and coming to the cabin in Nordegg. He and Christine travelled the globe for many years, teaching and learning about many diverse cultures. He was a voracious reader and avid music fan, especially the Grateful Dead. Sean’s sudden passing leaves a space of silence that was so recently filled with lively conversation and colorful commentaries on a wide range of topics. We are very grateful to the physicians and nursing staff at Pasqua Hospital for their highly skilled and dedicated care of Sean in his final days, and to the many friends and colleagues who have offered so much support.

Celebration of life April 19, 4:00 pm, Room LI216 La Rotunda, U of R.

Donations may be made in Sean’s name to University of Regina Faculty of Education.