Lessons and performances immerse Dubai students in Canadian lifestyle and heritage
July 5th, 2023, Dubai UAE: Students at Canadian University Dubai (CUD) have been discovering the rich history and culture of Canada as part of an immersive program of activities to explore the country’s lifestyle and heritage. Led by Ms. Sanaz Sotoudeh, CUD’s resident international concert pianist and lecturer, performances from Canadian artists complement in-curriculum classes, to broaden students’ cultural perspectives and prepare them for future life and work in Canada.
The initiative incorporates classroom-based lessons and extracurricular performances to introduce Canada to the global context. CUD has established a dedicated course in Canadian Studies, as part of the university’s general education curriculum. Ms. Sotoudeh explained, “Students learn about various aspects of Canadian society, including culture, politics, geography, economics, music, and literature. The course also teaches the rich history of Canada and its people.”
Alongside the classroom lessons is a program of extracurricular activities on campus that allow students to engage with Canadian performers and cultural experts first hand. Mr. Mohammad Lari, Canadian Cultural Officer at the Embassy of Canada in Abu Dhabi, delivered a session on ‘Art Without Borders: Cultural Diplomacy in Action’, sharing insights on how art, literature, and culture play important roles in the success of public diplomacy, providing opportunities to bring the Canadian culture to the UAE.
Most recently CUD staged a musical performance entitled, ‘The Canadian Identity: An Amalgamation of Different Cultures through Music’, celebrating the power of music in uniting cultures. Opened by guest speaker, Mr. Jean-Philippe Linteau, the Consul General of Canada in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, the event featured a piano recital performance by Mr. Tony Yike Yang, a renowned international pianist recognized as one of Canada’s finest young musicians. The performance showcased music by Chopin, as well as Canadian and Chinese composers, and included a duet alongside Ms. Sotoudeh.
Explaining the thinking behind the course and the value of integrating culture into the curriculum, Ms. Sotoudeh said, “Today’s students will be entering a global market and it’s important that they develop an understanding of different countries, both geopolitically and culturally. Many CUD students go on to further study and employment in Canada, and this course complements their undergraduate curriculum to fully equip them.”
She continued, “Music, art, and all forms of cultural education provide students with a rich learning experience that builds knowledge and helps develop their understanding of the world around them. Dubai’s growing culture scene inspires future generations to engage, learn and ultimately lead. As a university, we partner in this process and provide a range of cultural opportunities for the community to connect.”
Final year Psychology student, Yolanada Jessican, is exploring her options to pursue higher studies in Canada and believes her experiences at CUD have helped to lay the foundation. She explained, “Canada is culturally diverse, like the UAE, and coming from Sri Lanka it has been a unique experience for me to integrate with Canadian culture in Dubai. Learning about the different aspects of the country and developing an understanding of the cultural context have provided invaluable exposure that will prepare me for the future. I am also grateful to have been introduced to a new world of music through the performances I’ve attended on campus.”