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Student profile

Joseph Collier

Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts
Joint Specialization Anthropology and Sociology
Minor in Sustainability Studies

“Find space within your program to explore what you’re interested in. You have lots of freedom of choice.”

Raised in both the United States and Kuwait, Joseph Collier cultivates his own sense of home in Concordia’s gardens and environmental initiatives.

What’s it like being an international student in Montreal?

I’ve found it very easy to fit in. Everyone is chilled out and friendly. The tuition fees are noticeably cheaper than if I had gone to a private university in my home state. I see Montreal as a good example of a cosmopolitan melting pot. I meet people from everywhere. And the food choices are so diverse, you'll never get bored.

How did you start getting involved with the Concordia community?

One summer, I saw an opportunity to work at the Concordia Pollinators Initiative with Professor Carly Ziter. The reality of it was weeding in a flower bed for hours in the sun, which is fun. It’s very cathartic, especially because bumblebees will get inches from your face as you work, and you realize that they’re doing their thing and I’m doing mine. In Maryland, I grew up in wetlands and marshlands. There were a lot of waters and adventures to be had, so it was nice to reconnect with the greenery in Montreal. Eventually, I networked with more organizations like mind.heart.mouth, the Centre for Creative Reuse and the Concordia Greenhouse. In every one of these cases, I showed up, asked questions and kept coming to help regularly, and it worked out. You realize that you’re already part of a greater network --- you just need to find your own space in it.

What do you do in the Concordia Greenhouse?

Every Monday from 5-7 there’s general volunteering. Currently there’s a workshop teaching how to grow a hydroponics system from scratch. And I do some general maintenance, like propagating plants. Additionally, I’m working with CultivAction’s project to grow microgreens. Some microgreens go to the Hive Café, and some to the free lunches at the People’s Potato. Now I’m on the board of executives too, and my responsibilities include reviewing projects, revising policy, planning and helping with plant sales.

Do you have any memorable experiences at CU?

I was aerating the soil once at the Pollinators Garden and Jackie Martin, the former City Farm School coordinator, was explaining how the care we give to plants was just a small part of their overall growth. It's obvious that plants need care to grow, but in that moment, I realized that you need to keep being there for something to keep growing. This made me reflect a bit upon my own life. Everything takes perseverance. Even with classes, most of it is just showing up every day.

Do you have any advice for future Concordians?

There’s a lot of resources on campus, like the Hive Café and free lunch at the People’s Potato. Read the email newsletters from the CSU, Office of Sustainability, the Greenhouse, and many more on the website because there’s a lot of things out there that might go over your head or be mentioned once in passing. I had no idea what to expect from the Greenhouse, but I just showed up and now I’ve been going for 15 weeks.

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