International students take a LEAP to Kelowna

TRU students wandering around downtown Kelowna. (Marcela Arévalo/The Omega)

TRU students wandering around downtown Kelowna. (Marcela Arévalo/The Omega)

Divanshu Gupta came all the way from India to Canada to have a sugar glider from Australia climb all over him.

The second-year MBA student’s experience was part of a Kelowna excursion organized by TRU’s Leisure Explore Activity Program (LEAP) on Saturday, Oct. 1.

“He loved me and I loved him. He jumped on me like 50 or 60 times,” Gupta said.

Kangaroo Creek Farm was the first of three stops in the Kelowna excursion. The students had the opportunity to pet and interact with a variety of animals, including kangaroos, capybaras, emus, ducks and more.
The students also toured downtown Kelowna, where every student had the opportunity to eat some poutine and wander around town. After this the group headed down to Orchard Park to do some shopping.

Anna Dokshina, a fourth-year arts student from Russia, said that she liked being able to travel and share experiences with people she had not met before and get a different point of view on what she wants to buy.

Both, Dokshina and Gupta have traveled with LEAP before and agree that it is one of the best and yet cheapest ways to get around B.C. They both say the program allows students to know more people and would recommend others to engage in these type of activities.

Kangaroos at The Kangaroo Creek Farm. (Marcela Arévalo/The Omega)

Kangaroos at The Kangaroo Creek Farm. (Marcela Arévalo/The Omega)

Program co-ordinator Jillian Folk has been working with LEAP for four years, but says the program has been running for more than 20 years. LEAP is mainly aimed at international students – approximately 70 per cent of the tickets are sold to them in order to help them to get to know the areas around B.C., learn about Canadian culture and find out what Canadians do for fun. The program is also designed to have the students interact with each other, as the person sitting next to you can be from a country halfway across the world from yours, Folk said.

Folk has worked in tourism and parks all over the Okanagan and uses her past experiences to choose future LEAP trips.

“If I like it and I think you guys will like it then I’ll put together something,” Folk said.

She believes students should do more than just studying at university, and should actually get to know the area they are living in.

Alejandra Lizondro, a second-year student in computer science from Panama, experienced LEAP for the first time on this trip. She liked the fact that Orchard Park is bigger than Aberdeen Mall and she had more variety to choose from, but noticed that the malls in her country had shops from various countries, while the Canadian malls stick with local and U.S. shops.

She enjoyed sharing the experience but had some advice for those wanting to participate: “The only thing is that if you want to get tickets you need to be up at 7 a.m. to make sure,” Lizondro said, since they sell out quite fast.