People of Georgian: Hospitality students create diverse community in South Georgian Bay

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The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Judith “Micki” Rivers

We have 14 students from seven different countries in our program. They’re all friends, and 10 of them even live on the same cul-de-sac.

I bet if you surveyed them, you’d find that what they love most about going to Georgian is meeting and studying and working with other people from around the world.

They’re all students in the Hospitality – Hotel and Resort Operations Management program at Georgian’s South Georgian Bay Campus.

Twelve people sit or stand around a couch, each holding up the flag of the country they are from.
Some students from the Hospitality – Hotel and Resort Operations Management program at the South Georgian Bay Campus hold up flags of the countries they’re from.

They help each other out, like if somebody works at a restaurant and they’re given food at the end of the night, they bring it for lunch the next day and everybody gets to enjoy it.

They have their own sense of community and show tremendous kindness to each other.  

With only 14 students in the program, they often peer mentor each other, and they know I’m always there to support them, too.

I was the one who got a call when one of them drove their car into a ditch this winter, but by the time I got there, locals had come by and pushed and dug them out and sent them on their way. I remember a student from Southern India saying, “What an adventurous life we lead up here!”

A person wearing a black T-shirt and hat wears a medal around their neck and holds it up. It reads "Subaru Ironman."
Micki has been competing in triathlons for years and will be at the Worlds competition in Spain this fall.

Students get their own bikes

In the fall, I was also able to arrange for all of them to get their own bikes through friends and connections I have from a local triathlon group. The students didn’t have cars, and I wanted to show them trails and help them be able to bike to school and work.

A friend of mine is a bike mechanic, and all the parts the bikes needed came as a charitable donation. She fixed them all up and made sure they fit each student. This spring, I’m going to set up a little repair shop and have mechanics come in and look over their bikes to make sure they’re ready for the road again.

Eight adults stand outside in a parking lot next to bikes.
Micki helped get all her students bikes of their own.

Seeing students succeed a ‘big win’

When I’m teaching, I try to put my students into the community as much as possible, teaching them about local resources and big businesses and helping them secure jobs.

For the first time, we’ve had a grad come back to teach while also working for one of our major employers. That’s a big win!

I also had another student from Brazil who worked in guest experiences at Blue Mountain Resort. This winter, we had all kinds of tourists coming from Spain and Portugal, so he quickly learned Spanish – on top of the Portuguese and English he already knew – and soon had lineups at work because they could understand clearly in their own languages.

He’s one of our students who has been offered a full-time job after he graduates. Job offers like that have happened to a number of our students.

‘You don’t get lost in the shuffle here’

My hospitality students have also been partnered with the Social Service Worker program here.

The social work students, who are often mostly domestic, got winter coats and mittens from local retailers for my students to help them prepare for their first Canadian winters. Sometimes both programs have overlapping classes, so they all become friends, too.  

When it’s a smaller campus, these are the kinds of things that happen. You don’t get lost in the shuffle here.

Judith “Micki” Rivers, part-time instructor and Academic Coordinator in the Hospitality Tourism and Recreation department at Georgian’s South Georgian Bay Campus.

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