JIBC exchange programs give global perspective to students


JIBC law enforcement studies students enjoying the Irish countryside while on a JIBC exchange to the Waterford Institute of Technology in 2013. Being a foreigner in Ireland helped her relate to newcomers she encounters in her current job as a police officer in Greater Vancouver.  (Story by Wanda Chow)

Since January 2013, 10 JIBC Law Enforcement Studies Diploma students have spent their last semester on an academic exchange at WIT in Ireland. The program helps students gain an international perspective of law enforcement and learn about the different opportunities and challenges faced by those working in law enforcement in other parts of the world. The JIBC Foundation, the Peter and Joanne Brown Foundation and the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society, administered by the Victoria Foundation, generously provide financial support for students participating in this unique experience.

JIBC law enforcement studies graduates like Diana had long wanted to be a police officer, a job she found appealing for the “complexity of it,” and the fact “every day is different, you never know what to expect.” She knew a desk job wasn’t for her.

“I’m more of a go-go-go kind of person. I like being outside and interacting with people.”

She took courses from WIC’s Criminal Justice Studies program, for which she received credits, learning about another country’s justice system in a more theoretical style compared to JIBC’s very much hands-on program. A Waterford police officer she met even gave her a tour of the local police station, which Diana found fascinating, noting the police’s heavy use of CCTV cameras in its downtown area which becomes party central every night.

The experience not only gave her confidence in being able to handle the unknown, but a greater appreciation for the situation many newcomers to Canada find themselves in.

“I can see how there’s a lot of confusion for a lot of new people, that’s how I felt. I understand English pretty well, but when I went over it was a whole other language.”

Nine months after graduating from JIBC’s LESD program, Diana was hired as an officer with a local police department.



Sophie Butler of Swindon, UK is one of two University of Portsmouth students currently on an exchange to JIBC’s New Westminster campus. (Photo by Wanda Chow)


Steve McCartney, Acting Director of JIBC’s Justice & Public Safety Division, said exchanges such as the Waterford program give JIBC students a global perspective through meeting other foreign exchange students from all over the world.

“Police recruiters look for candidates that can live independently, that are open to adventure, and have lived in a different culture because that helps them deal with a very diverse population in British Columbia,” McCartney said.

For those that can’t go away, JIBC offers the chance to interact with foreign exchange students that come to study at the New Westminster campus, such as the two currently here from the University of Portsmouth in the UK.

“In the case of Portsmouth, JIBC students are learning as much as those two students are learning about a different culture,” he said.

Sophie Butler of Swindon and Alessia Nannini of London are both 22-year-old students majoring in criminology and psychology at the University of Portsmouth. They chose to come to study for two semesters at JIBC’s New Westminster campus for the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to travel to Canada.

They’ve been taking in the many differences in teaching styles, from JIBC’s small classes and experiential approach to the many assignments and exams, compared to the more lecture-focused classes back home where it’s not unusual for there to be no homework and to have one exam count for 100 per cent of their mark.



Alessia Nannini of London, UK, is a University of Portsmouth student on an exchange to JIBC’s New Westminster campus where she is taking courses in law enforcement studies. (Photo by Wanda Chow)


“We’re looking forward to the lessons in fitness, shooting and driving,” said Butler of their courses, pulled from both the LESD and Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies (BLES) programs. “We wouldn’t do that in Portsmouth.”

There have been a few things to get used to, such as crossing the road.

“Usually when we cross the road in the UK we’re looking in a different direction,” said Nannini. “I’d like to drive out here but I’m too nervous. Here, a lot of the main roads are very busy.”

They’ve been taking in Canadian culture and have plans to attend a Vancouver Canucks hockey game soon. But so far the scenery and the hikes they’ve taken have been their most memorable experiences.

They described hiking up Black Tusk mountain in Garibaldi Provincial Park with something akin to awe.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Nannini of the deep blue Garibaldi Lake. “I drank from the lake, it was so pure.”

Kevin Sanford, Program Director for JIBC’s Office of International Affairs, said such international exchanges not only help make students more appealing to future employers, they give students the confidence and skills to adapt to whatever situations they may encounter when working in justice or public safety roles.

“We continue to build partnerships with educational institutions around the world to give our students more of these opportunities to learn about how justice and public safety systems work in other countries,” Sanford said.


For more information on foreign exchange scholarship opportunities, visit: LESD International Exchange Scholarship, The Jim and Vicki Chu Legacy Award and, for recent graduates of the Fire Fighting Technologies Certificate program, the Irving K. Barber One World International Scholarship.


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