Regina Lyakhovetska is an international education professional with expertise in international student services, study abroad programs and international partnerships development. She is also an English teacher, writer and translator. Regina has a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration and Leadership and a Certificate in Intercultural Communication from UBC.
Regina came to UBC in 1999 as an international graduate student from Ukraine. Prior to that, she was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and an intern at the Library of Congress doing research in language and style of poetry for children.
At UBC, Regina became passionate about helping other international students and saw the need for their greater integration. Along with a dedicated team of student leaders, she advocated for international student issues in her role as the Founder of the International Students Association. Upon graduation, she worked for over a decade supporting international and exchange students at UBC and at King’s University College at Western University.
Regina published on international student experiences at UBC, the UBC differential tuition policy, and internationalization of Canadian universities. The UBC Global Citizenship report authored by her was called the seminal study on global citizenship in Canada at the CBIE conference in 2004. For her contributions to student life and learning environment, Regina was recognized with the Margaret Fulton Award at UBC and a Service Recognition Award at King’s.
More recently, Regina has served as the English Language Consultant for the companies in Ukraine that are expanding their global reach. To celebrate her father’s jubilee this year, Regina has collaborated with twenty partners in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Russia and Ukraine to promote his poetry. She has recently participated in a Vancouver Co-op Radio show along with her father. Regina dedicated her part to the many great colleagues and students who she has worked with in Canada, to her UBC professors, and to her parents, all of whom have taught her the world.
What is your most memorable experience from your time in the Faculty of Education?
As one of the few international students in my classes, I had to find my place and role in class discussions that were mainly focused on the realities of the Canadian education system. One event marked a turning point for me and the beginning of gaining my own voice. I attended a campus-wide presentation by Dr. Hans Schuetze where he described his study of a group of international graduate students and the process of integration they had gone through. It was the first time when I heard about the experiences of other international students presented in public and in an academic paper. After the presentation, I stood up and started sharing how I felt in my classes and why. Many international students came up to me later and said they had similar experiences. Since then, I have never stopped speaking for and about international students and taking action. I received an overwhelmingly positive response from the UBC community. Students, faculty, staff and administration were interested in hearing more from international students and offering support. As a student speaker, I participated in the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration Student Forum in the USA and Mexico. I held fellowships from the ACCC, Soros Foundation and North American Students Mobility Program. As a graduate assistant, I was fortunate to work with the outstanding team of EDST professors at the UBC Centre for Policy Studies in Higher Education and Training (CHET).
Where has your education from the Faculty of Education taken you in your career?
Upon graduation from UBC, I continued serving international and exchange students in progressively responsible positions at UBC and at King’s. At UBC, I coordinated the International Peer Program, the Global Citizenship Project and served as an International Student Advisor. At King’s, I also managed study abroad programs and hosted visiting faculty. I initiated partnerships with universities in the UK, Germany, Austria and Singapore and managed the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program. For five years in a row, I was responsible for organizing a Cultural Festival, the largest multicultural celebration on King’s campus and in London. I have benefited from excellent professional development events and programs across Canada and the USA including the International Educators Training Program at Queen’s University, NAFSA Managing Development Program and the UBC Training for Intercultural and Diversity Trainers. However, the most important outcomes of my UBC studies are related to the development of the following attitudes and skills that have made me into a better professional, a better global citizen and a better human being.
The list is by no means exhaustive:
- Heightened awareness of individual and global responsibility
- Ability to take initiative and lead
- Critical thinking and research skills
- Academic and creative writing skills
- Freedom to speak up
- Networking skills
- Advising skills
- Identifying and sharing resources
- Finding allies
- Reaching out for support
- Keen interest in world events and global issues
- Cultural curiosity
- Intercultural communication skills
Where do issues of inclusion find a place in your life or at work?
My UBC education and work in international education have taught me to always question who is included and who is excluded and instilled a desire to create communities where people of all backgrounds can thrive. Whether they are international or exchange students in Canada striving for success, prospective students overseas preparing for the big move, or the residents of my hometown whose rights have been violated, I am committed to learning about their issues, sharing insights, connecting them to resources, raising community awareness and advocating on their behalf.
Do you have any words of wisdom for current students? Newly graduated folks?
International students: Be proactive in finding things you do not know, do not hesitate to ask for help. Say “Yes” to new opportunities. Take initiative to share your cultural background and educational experience at UBC. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Take advantage of the many campus resources. Volunteer. Get involved in student associations or create your own support group. Take the time to reflect on what it means for you to be an international student and what constitutes your role on campus.
Canadian Students: Remember about international students in your classes. They are far away from home, many come alone and have to learn how to function effectively in a new academic and social culture, while adjusting to new food, weather and often, new language. International students who are encouraged by their Canadian classmates to contribute to classroom discussions or join them and their families for holiday celebrations and social events report greater satisfaction. These are also valuable opportunities for Canadians to learn about international student cultures and experiences.
All: Get involved in campus and community events: social, professional and academic. Not only will you be able to meet new people, learn about different cultures, and gain new knowledge, these opportunities can help shape up your research interests and career goals.
Network: Connect with as many people as you can in and outside of your classes, through work and volunteering. Your UBC network will be one of the most valuable takeaways.
Remember about study – work – life balance: Take the time to also enjoy Vancouver’s scenery and surrounding areas, especially if you are from out of town. Explore the Canadian landscapes. It is a very special city and country to be in. Don’t take it for granted.