Inside Story: How to Have a Positive Class Chemistry

Written by Marilyn Camaclang,  PRMSC Class of 2014


Winter Get-up

Sorry for being a spoiler! Some of you arrived here in Winnipeg during this fall season experiencing its splendid colours and breeze. This is just to prepare you for the crazy winter weather that’ll sweep the city soon!

But what I’d really like to say is “Congratulations on your daring decision to move recently!” I was just like you two years ago. That mixed feelings of excitement and fear for new people, places, and phenomena that you brought yourselves into, I’ve been there!

While Winnipeg is a city of never ending snow, it’s also the city of opportunities. You can start shoveling, rather uncovering yours here at PACE!

Indeed, opportunities knock with my new credentials from PACE. I recently got two job offers, one from the provincial government and another from a crown corporation. With my background in social services, I decided to gain real-life experience in marketing and communications through completing my internship in this department at the University of Winnipeg. I haven’t had enough time yet to contemplate on my whole-year PACE experience. Thinking about what makes ours a great class is a good starting point.


If you’re looking for a perfect class chemistry, you can’t find it here. Simply because you don’t have time. You’re in a very intensive program where sleepless nights are normal even for those who thought that they’ve perfected their time management skills already.

Everyone entered the program for a specific purpose. In my case, I wanted to be integrated into the Canadian system quickly. In your coming here for varying reasons, your ultimate measure of success is whether you’ve achieved that purpose or not. Having a great class, that bunch of special people whom you’ll share the ups and downs of this program with and whom you can call your family and friends, is only a bonus! I’m very grateful for accomplishing both during the year with my beloved classmates!


Who doesn’t want a positive chemistry? We strive to have this in all human relationships. If we fail to, some choose the easiest way out, TO QUIT! Although I’ve thoughts of this sort during the program, I’d never advice this. My goal is to encourage you as much as possible while giving you a clear picture, including the good and the ugly, of what it’s like in the program.

Ensuring a positive class chemistry will go a long way in keeping you in your senses all throughout the year. Here’s how:

Be open. Most of our classmates came into the program with wealth of experience. They’re on to their first to third degrees or aspiring to move up after a number of years in their careers. As well, half of the class came from different continents. It’d be great listening to their unique stories and understanding their diverse perspectives. Being open to their ideas and their ways of doing will contribute to your professional as well as personal growth and development.

Meet Urvashi, who’s completed her 4th post degree with us after her Bachelors and Masters in Commerce and MBA in Marketing

Be patient. Another step towards a positive class chemistry is being patient particularly when waiting for your classmates to be in the same page with you. Apart from not having English as a first language, the industry where they thrive on maybe different from yours. You should also be mindful of their learning curves and their ability to adapt to their new environment. Moreover, they maybe entangled with other out-of-school responsibilities and commitments just like you. Always endeavour to give as much leeway as possible when you decide to work together as a group.

Breno & Ladies
My classmates coming from different professional backgrounds

Be available. This is an area where I had the most difficulty. With two part-time jobs for weekday-evenings and for weekends, I ended up sneaking-out my break times for doing future assignments. I didn’t have much time with my classmates for personal chats and if given an option, I did group projects on my own. Halfway through the program, in February 2015, I let go of my jobs and devoted all my waking (and sleeping hours) to the program. That’s when I realized the time I lost in knowing my classmates more.

My advice to you then is to spend some time with your classmates. Strike some personal conversations, if you feel it’s the right time. Go out and relax together. It’ll be very refreshing to breathe some out-of-school air in between. In addition, be vulnerable to ask help when you need it and be willing to extend a hand when you have the capacity to. Availability also comes with willingness to divert from our regular school life patterns.

Dec 2014
During our December 2014 Christmas break

Furthermore, being available for school-related activities will reap many benefits. Whether you’re new to the city or not, this is a venue for expanding your networks and your horizon beyond the classroom setting. Some are arranged by PACE and still others are through a third party. Attend those that’ll fit-in with your goals and with your schedules. PACE has a committee taking care of student life events. Your first event will kick off in October 9th, your Thanksgiving Potluck. This will highlight your traditional clothes and recipes from your home countries. Student Life events is where you’ll meet students from other classes and the staff. Your first steps to learning about big group chemistry start here.


Let’s face it, we can’t evade downward slopes along the way. As all relationships, our one year in school was replete with struggles, with others and ourselves. Here’s some ideas on maintaining a positive class chemistry, if not avoiding all obstacles:

Have a class agreement. It may not be as explicit as engraving it on stone or the like but having a brief conversation on what are expected of the class will help guide you throughout the year (e.g. respect one another, help each other, etc.).

Be aware and sensitive. Knowing your classmates’ personality types and work styles will bring out the best in your class. It’ll also help you mitigate conflicts that may arise from lack of a fit.

Make the most of every opportunity. Grab any chances of strengthening your group dynamics like in-class group exercises and your group projects. Also, flag those class topics that will surely drive success to your future team efforts. Examples are Tuckman’s Five-Stage Theory of Group Development in your Organizational Behaviour class and the Five Dysfunctions of a Team in Essential Skills for Managers. Remember that PACE is here to equip you for the real world of work out there.

Have a BIG HEART. Be ready to have a big space to contain new friends and extra spaces for those who will test your limits. Also, find those who will be there to give you listening ears when you’re stressing out to the highest level (mind you, this is normal!). Those who see through your beauty as well as your flaws. Those who have the courage and ability to check and correct and who will turn you into a better and stronger person in the end.

Me, Nivin, & Mia
My PR buddies, Mia (left) and Nivin (middle)



I remember one class presentation about an analogy of a boat applicable to any groups or organizations. It’s your responsibility as a class to continue moving forward, come high or hell waters! If you don’t have the time or willingness to look after your classmates, then your share is simply not to be the one who’s going to sink it.

You’re about to embark on a challenging but rewarding PACE experience. I can assure you that starting off with being open, patient, and available and applying some of my suggestions above will help you make it, BECAUSE MY CLASS AND I DID!


All the best to your 2015 PACE program!

P.S. Message me on Facebook if anyone needs mentoring. I have books for sale as well!

Getting Ready for the big move ?!

by pinterest

I hope you are all really excited for your big move to Canada! It may be bit nerve-racking to leave family and friends (and weekend hangouts) behind, but we are busy preparing for the start of your program and are excited to get your arrival information.

You are not alone! In 2012, Canadian Immigration and Citizenship issued 100,000 study permits and this trend continues to grow. Every year, thousands of international students begin their new life in Canada and add to the growing globalization of our population.

In the coming weeks, you will arrive here in Manitoba. Here are some tips and essential information on how to prepare for the trip and for your first months in Canada.

  • Packing is not everyone’s forte and it’s definitely not mine for sure. Read the post, Packing for Canada for some smart tips. PS: Don’t forget to bring at least one of your traditional wear. We have a big cultural celebration at PACE in January.
  • Did you know that UWinnipeg International Student Services offers free airport pick-up service? If you have not already booked this service, please be sure to complete the Airport pick up application right away.
  • Health Insurance – You can deal with this in the first week in Winnipeg
  • Buying a new phone – Compare rates and plans before you purchase
  • Banking – Scotia, CIBC, RBC, and TD Canada Trust are popular with the international students. Research before you sign up for the plan and be sure to inquire about student banking fees to get the best service plan. All these banks will a downtown branch, which can be found on this map.
  • RentingUWinnipeg Housing, Kijiji, and Rent Canada are sources with information of rental properties. Please be prepared for a guarantor clause with some rental agencies, which requires that you have someone (a relative or friend) here in the city who will guarantee the financial obligations of your rental agreement.
  • Temporary stay in the first week – You can check in to Holiday In, Alt Hotel or Delta Hotel in Winnipeg, or find a economical stay at airbnb site.
  • Groceries – A sure-fire way to reduce your living expenses is to avoid eating out whenever possible. Try to cook healthy affordable meals and this should help you cut some expenses. You may hate your own cooking in the beginning, but gradually, this may change as you master some recipes. Who knows, you may even begin to invite your new friends to dinner. Safeway, Superstore, Dino’s East and West Indian Food are some names you can Google for your grocery needs.
  • Electronics – There may be some student deals in August, September. Check out Staples, Best Buy or The Source for laptops, TV, video games and all.
  • Housewares and furniture – Winnipeg has Ikea, Walmart, Jysk and other affordable stores to stock your new apartment with the essentials to make it a home Gently-used housewares, furnishings and electronics can also be found on Kijiji.
  • Exploring Winnipeg – Start collecting memories since the day one. So you can share with your family and friends back home. They are waiting to hear all the fun you have. Since most of you will be here before the end of August, you will have some time to enjoy the city. Make sure to check out these sites for upcoming events in Winnipeg during that time.

We are looking forward to see you soon!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsh.

I look forward to meeting you all!

Mekala Wickramasinghe,

PACE Student Life Coordinator

August before Autumn – Hurry and enjoy!

photo credit:

It’s the August before Autumn! Summer is almost over, so I need to get out and do something. If this thought came to your mind this past weekend, you are not alone! There is me, and I’m sure there are a few more out there.

Winnipeg has the shortest summer, yet it’s beautiful, eventful and sunny as any tropical land can get. As well, the culture, music, food and people are all the great things Winnipeg has to offer. And if you don’t get to experience, you are going to miss out for sure!

FOLKLORAMA- August 02- 15: every globetrotter’s dream!

Whether you are a globetrotter, or someone who dreams about travel, or simply want to have a great time, Folklorama gives you a chance to see it all in one city. From Brazilian capoeira dancers, soul-soothing Japanese music, energetic african drums, to fun filled afterparties with music, dance and everything summer festival needs, it’s all just in Winnipeg. You even get to send a prayer note all the way to Jerusalem through the Israeli pavilion, or learn some cuban tango, have a beer or two in german style, tap dance your way home and wake up your neighbours. So all I got to say is, don’t miss this fantastic cultural celebrations. Check out the Folklorama Pavilion Guide for pavilion information.

Folklorama 2015
Photo credit: Folklorama


Free movies @ Assiniboine Park:

Early Feature (7 pm)                   Late Feature (9:15 pm)
August 7 | Big Hero 6                 August 7 | Theory of Everything
August 14 | Finding Nemo         August 14 | Tomorrowland
August 21 | Cinderella               August 21 | Avengers: Age of Ultron
August 28 | Home                     August 28 | Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1
Free Ballet Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet concert  @ Assiniboine Park

July 29 – 31 | 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm daily

Click here for more fun summer events at the Assiniboine Park

assiniboine park
Photo credit: Assiniboine park
Tip: Bring a good comfy blanket, snacks, water and oh, and mosquito spray (you might need this)!
If not in mood for Assibinoine park, the down town will offer you the same theatre experience. We love our movies, but only summer can offer the outdoor movie experience.
Memorial Park
Photo credit:
 Memorial Park movies will show The Avengers, Furious 7 and more ! Hint: Keep an eye for the food trucks. For those who are new to Drive-In movies, check out what down will offer you this summer. Hint: Sci Fi
From July 01 until Labour Day Week end in September, every hour Legislative Building offers tours inside the building. Anyone who’s interested in knowing the history of the Legislature and Manitoba and (the golden boy of course! ) Check out more details at: Legislative Building Tours
MB Leg Cover Photo.tif
Photo credit: Manitoba Museum
You don’t alway need to spend dollars to have fun. To check out more events, just click the items below.

Have a great rest of the summer !!

Holidaying in style!

For our full-time PACE students, holidays began last week and I am certain that they were dreaming of this time for four crazy months of sleepless nights, unheard alarms, and compromised social moments. Regardless of the reason, each one deserves the break.

As I was thinking of sending an email blast wishing everyone a happy holiday, Sam (Shamsher Singh) from Project Management group dropped by my office on Friday. He asked me if I knew of a place he could volunteer over the holidays. Inspiring! I thought.

So here’s to Sam and any of you who are still looking to holiday in style!

Winnipeg Harvest – A Winnipeg food bank that serves families in need. Call up 3-4 friends to join you and set up a time with Harvest to volunteer. They also need many people to deliver holiday hampers so pitch in if you or one of your friends has a car. They need your help

For further information, contact Volunteer Services or call Shara Harke at 204-982-3587

Siloam Mission – A Winnipeg soup kitchen that serves meals and provides shelter to those in need.

For further information, contact their volunteer coordinator.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Winnipeg – Raises money through the sale of Christmas trees.  Check out their tree lot at IKEA on Kenaston Boulevard.

For more information, please visit:

& If you are a music lover….->

Juno Awards – It’s  coming to Winnipeg in 2014, and they are looking for volunteers. I thought you may be interested in this.

Whatever you do on your holidays, don’t forget to treat yourself with a lots of love and joy!

Take care, be safe, and have a wonderful holiday season!!

Fight the system, Forgive people – Mandela’s great example

On December 5th, 2013 great Nelson Mandela passed away, leaving a legacy, even our great grand children would talk about one day. Many nations have dedicated this weekend to pay tribute to the great work he had done to South Africa and across the world. Not just because that I have to do that, but that I believe in his ‘movement’ against violation of human rights, segregation and oppression, I thought to share a little bit of what I read.

As a young South African, Nelson Mandela fought against prevailing political system, the so called Arpethied* . For the same reason, he was arrested in 1962 and was imprisoned for 27 years.

Arpatheid: “After the National Party gained power in South Africa in 1948, its all-white government immediately began enforcing existing policies of racial segregation under a system of legislation that it called apartheid. Under apartheid, nonwhite South Africans (a majority of the population) would be forced to live in separate areas from whites and use separate public facilities, and contact between the two groups would be limited. Despite strong and consistent opposition to apartheid within and outside of South Africa, its laws remained in effect for the better part of 50 years. In 1991, the government of President F.W. de Klerk began to repeal most of the legislation that provided the basis for apartheid.” -1

After getting released from the prison, leading by example, Mandela continue lead a non-violent campaigns across the country against the Arpatheid system.

Nelson Mandela

“The time for the healing of the wounds has come,” he said. “The moment to bridge the chasm that divides us, has come.” – 2

After becoming the first black president in South Africa, he went to meet the man who ordered to imprison him for 27 years, just to give him a warm greeting. At this time South Africa was leading towards ‘Reconciliation’. Mandela wanted people with all the different colours to come together as one identity, South Africans. Can there be any better of an example to a country, that its president meet and shake hands of the man who violated his rights? His message to South Africans was to leave the hatred and oppressed mind-sets behind and start fighting the prevailing Arpatheid.

I think that Mandela had given a new meaning to the ‘forgiveness’. He continued to fight until he reached, his ultimate goal, a nation that has equal rights among everyone, despite their colour.




Get well soon Malinga!

Robin Chauhan is an international student from India, who is currently enrolled in the Project Management Diploma program. Last week, he volunteered at our 3rd annual Cultural Evening.

Robin dropped by my office last Wednesday to ask about his duties. I perceived Robin as a reserved person with a few words. So Robin putting his name forward to volunteer at the registration table of a busy event quite surprised me. After a few minutes of serious events business, I asked Robin, if he is going home for Christmas.

Robin said he would love to, as he misses home so much. I get it. I too, once as an International student used to miss home a lot. Now I have been here longer, I don’t miss home as much, instead I try to visit every year.  For most of the holidays, we get to watch TV alone, or talking to families across the globe for long hours via internet. I asked Robin what he missed the most. He said Malinga. Cricket fans know that Malinga is a Sri Lankan cricket player.


So I asked him why he would miss a Sri Lankan cricket player!? (He must really love cricket)He laughed and said, No!, Infact his pet rabbit was named after the Sri Lankan Cricket player ‘Lasith Malinga’ in the picture above.


This is Robin’s Malinga, a quite charming rabbit.

Robin was so worried that Malinga (the pet) broke one of his legs a week ago and still limping. He is slowly recovering, he said.

It’s hard to leave someone very close to you. For me it was my grandparents who I grew up with. For Robin, it was his pets, that he raised all by him self. The people or things you love defines the person you are. Nothing else is difficult than departing from them. So I am dedicating this blog post to Malinga and I hope he will get well soon and Robin will get to go home for a holiday to see him, and hopefully bring him to Canada in near future!

Written by,

Mekala Wickramasinghe

PACE Student Life Coordinator


little things make big difference

Last month, we had our 3rd annual PACE Thanksgiving potluck. We made the biggest room in the Buhler Centre look tiny! Apart from the turnout of 200 something students, the highlight of this potluck was that the group represented from all over the world (about 30+ countries, at least!) I felt like that I was in a mini UN Gala.

New Traditions:

Although majority of this group were Canadians or New Canadians, there was a small population of students who just arrived a month before. It was all a new tradition for them. I remembered getting invitation to my first Canadian pot-luck , and thinking that it was some kind of a pottery class! So our Canadian students played an integral part of explaining the new students what ‘potluck’ is. Did they do a good job?, YES! They did a fantastic food, because we had many authentic dishes on the table, local and international.

IMG_1639   IMG_0735


Not only the event filled our tummies, and helped us taste some delicious cuisines around the world, it gave us chance to brag about our culinary skills. That was my flashback moment to my first year at UW. I remembered cooking a Sri Lankan meal for the first time, and serving it to my housemates. It was so BAD, nothing compared to what my mom made even I couldn’t eat it. The next day, my Minnesotan housemate brought me a bag of chickpeas and asked me to make the same dish, so she can eat the rest of the week. Wow it took me a life changing travel, to gain confidence in my cooking skills! Even better, I made three friends at this potluck. One became my best and forever friend! So the “pottery class” changed it all.

meks potluck 1

I hope some of  the best friendships may have begun after our 2013 potluck!

our capabilities”. So I thought to use my blog to tell stories about our students, and all the great things they do to bring, sustain and synergize the life of PACE!

On a side note, students already have suggested a Holiday Potluck in December. Stay tuned!