By Ashlee Levy, Marketing Services
The UVic Philippine Community Club or UPC's mission is to act as a community and home away from home for Filipino students studying with Continuing Studies at UVic. The club was started in January 2022 and was ratified as an official UVSS club for the second time last month.
"When I came here in the fall of last year, I attended clubs and course unions days together with fellow Filipino students. We couldn't help but notice that there weren't any clubs we felt we could fit in," says the chair of UPC, Ryan Justin Garcia. "There was a Brazilian club and other international clubs, but nothing specific for us."
Since starting the club, Ryan and the other 300 members have hosted a variety of in-person and online events. In addition to social events like game nights, UPC also hosts informational webinars. These sessions are geared toward future and prospective international students. Attendees have the opportunity to connect with peers as well as learn about what to expect when arriving in Canada and at UVic.
"It's hard to uproot your life," says the club's vice-chairperson and ScoutBees founder, Gaze Del Castillo. "Having a solid support system that truly understands what you're going through is something that I'm very proud of and something that I want to continue."
Members of the UVic Philippine Community Club meeting in front of library.
UPC members say that mentorship and community are some of the main benefits of joining the club. In the face of the isolation and culture shock that many international students experience, a community like UPC can make all the difference.
"It's nice to know that you're not doing life alone," says Ryan. "It's really comforting to know… that someone here understands what I'm going through."
As Continuing Studies students, the group feels it is especially important to have a community on campus.
"The good thing about joining a club or creating your own community is that you have a voice," says Ryan.
"International students right now are so lucky," says Claudine. "They have a community that will not just help and support their transition into the school and work, but also [provide] a sense of belonging."
Members of the UVic Philippine Community Club in front of the Continuing Studies building.