Reciprocal Opportunities in Higher Education: Canada and Mexico

By: Becky Breen

Since joining the CanMex Youth Lab as a Canadian Delegate in September, I have learned a lot from the discussions and meetings with those involved in fostering the relationship between Canada and Mexico, including members of both embassies and governments, and past and present youth delegates. Specifically, I have observed the importance of the relationship between our two countries. Our nations share a continent; are involved in many of the same agreements surrounding trade and government; and have overlapping values and goals. This is not to say that both of our countries excel in all the same areas; and a growing relationship is also an opportunity for our countries to support one another to improve our own nations, our relationship with one another, and our environment.

My current job is supporting a Global Strategy at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, and so, during the CanMex discussions and presentations, I have looked at the relationship between Canada and Mexico through the lens of higher education. From my point of view, Canadian Universities and Colleges are very enthusiastic about admitting international students—there is great value that students with diverse experiences bring to a higher education environment and who better to bring it then international students! What must not be glossed over, however, is the financial gain for institutions in admitting international students. The process of developing the Global Strategy at Laurier has aimed to look at internationalization for all the benefits of diversity, highlighting the need for a multitude of student supports; local and global opportunities for engagement with other cultures and languages; and importantly, reciprocal partnerships.

This idea of reciprocation is something that has been echoed by youth voices in the Lab. My colleague Valentina Muhlia, a Mexican delegate in the lab, noted in a conversation surrounding bilateral relations, that although there are many initiatives between the countries that are intended to be bilateral, they are not always reciprocal. Are the universities and colleges in Canada that are eager for international students also seeking to engage with the source countries of their students? How can our countries strive to embrace reciprocity, to learn from one another and open up higher education opportunities between our great countries?

These types of discussions are happening right now at the youth level. On November 24th, we will present our recommendation on bilateral relations to the Canadian Mexico Partnership (CMP) meeting. Stay tuned to see what our delegates have to say about bilateral relationships!