My name is Manuela Bárcenas. I am an international student, a Community Developer for Carleton Residence, and a Journalist-in-the-making.
I was born in Bogota, Colombia. However, I was blessed to have the opportunity to live in Ecuador and Peru with my beautiful family during my middle and high school years.
All of these changes have made me who I am. I love travelling. I love taking pictures. I love asking questions. I love getting to know and helping people. For these reasons, I decided to move to Ottawa in 2014, and I’m sure I’ll never regret the decision of coming to Carleton.
Yes, being an international student can be hard. You will probably get homesick many times, and you will miss the warm weather back home when winter gets here.
However, living in residence made it easier for me to feel that I belonged somewhere, even though I was thousands of miles away from home.
My floor – 5th Lennox & Addington – was so welcoming and diverse it was hard to feel alone. I met people from places I had never heard before, and there was never a day when someone didn’t say “good morning!” with a huge smile on their face. We knew our Residence Fellow was always there to answer our questions, and that we were surrounded by amazing people like the Residence Counselors and Residence Managers, who were always available to support us.
Guided by a passion to help others and make everyone feel included, I decided to become a Residence Fellow in my second year.
I had the honour to be a leader on a floor of 63 students, working as a first-response person, coach and community builder along with my Co-Res Fellow, Chloe.
As a Residence Fellow for 10th Glengarry, I was able to help students get involved and feel welcomed in their new home. I organized events to help them move around the city and constantly received knocks on my door asking for advice and support. I met an amazing group of people, who came into my life as students, and now stay as friends.
Sounds like a great job doesn’t it? And I haven’t told you about the Residence Life Staff (RLS) community yet.
When you become a Residence Fellow, you get to meet more than 100 other Residence Fellows during two weeks of training. Just imagine a room full of enthusiastic people that really care about helping others. All your co-workers are caring, positive, and extremely supportive. I would not imagine my university experience without this wonderful group of people.
RLS has given me the opportunity to grow personally and professionally. As a Residence Fellow, I learned about mediating conflict, listening to different perspectives and creating inclusive environments for everyone.
Being an international student, the position gave me the chance to immerse in Canadian culture and traditions, while teaching my students about my own. My first Thanksgiving dinner, my first time decorating a gingerbread cookie and my first attempt to build a snowman are all experiences I owe to RLS.
I enjoyed the idea of being a support and resource person for other students so much, that I decided to become a Community Developer for the entire residence community this year.
As a CD, I aim to support all Residence Fellows and students in residence so they can achieve their highest potential. I am also part of a wonderful team that organizes events to make sure everyone in our community feels included, and has the best possible residence experience.
I had never heard about the Residence Fellow position before coming to Canada. However, becoming part of this team changed my entire life. Do you want to get involved, help students grow, and work with the most caring group of people you’ll ever meet? This job will make you as happy as it has made me.