International students on P.E.I. lending a hand during Canada Games

Prabhatha Meduri is a fourth-year psychology student volunteering at the Canada Games. (Submitted by Prabhatha Meduri - image credit)
Prabhatha Meduri is a fourth-year psychology student volunteering at the Canada Games. (Submitted by Prabhatha Meduri - image credit)

Students on Prince Edward Island get an extended March break this year while the province hosts the 2023 Canada Winter Games.

Instead of going to visit family or traveling during their break, some international students have stayed on the Island during their 16-day break. They've joined the legion of volunteers working to make the Games a success.

Fourth-year psychology student Prabhatha Meduri says she was unaware of the Games before coming to Canada from India, but  was glad to get involved.

"I used to play a lot of sports when I was home," she said.

Corinne Bosch/2023 PEI Canada Games
Corinne Bosch/2023 PEI Canada Games

"So this makes me feel that even if I don't play … I'm part of something big, which [it] is to me as well as to P.E.I."

The province last hosted the Games 32 years ago, she noted: "Statistically it is a big event and I'm very happy to be part of it."

By spending her days at the Games, Meduri said she's been able to find community during the break.

"We usually see students go to their homes, family homes or like a vacation, but then for international students we don't have that much community here," she said.

The engaging, lively spirit of the Games has also been a welcome change of pace from what Meduri calls a more "sleepy" winter season.

"You go to school and come home and it's already dark and you feel like you're asleep," she said.

"But with the activities happening right now it's very engaging and this kind of reduces that boredom or depression in all of us."

Abdul-Basit Emmanuel, a third-year engineering student from Nigeria who plays for the UPEI men's soccer team, is also volunteering with the Games. He said he enjoys the social elements of the work, but also sees it as valuable experience.

"I feel like it … helps you out in the long run as an international student here," he said.

Submitted by Abdul-Basit Emmanuel
Submitted by Abdul-Basit Emmanuel

"It's just like a personal thing to me. I just want to help out any way I can, and I'm into sports too, so that's another reason."

Emmanuel has been helping with a range of volunteer duties, including scanning tickets and providing directions to spectators at events.

Like Meduri, he said there's a certain energy in the air at the Games.

"You feel the passion… You could see the excitement from like spectators and fans, which is really nice," he said. "The experience has been amazing so far."

Emmanuel said the excitement has sparked his own passion, making him determined to get back on the field with the UPEI men's soccer team.

"It just gives you this extra motivation," he said. "It makes me want to do more as an athlete and it's nice to see that."