Thompson Rivers University now has more than 1,600 international students and last year added Colombia to its 85 countries of origin after partnering with a university in Medellín and another in Bogotá.
The university expects to host 25 Colombians by January.
"Colombia is a nation of 45 million people. Infrastructure is really solid. You have a reverence for education and you have very good universities both private and public," said Wes Koczka, TRU World's associate vice president.
In the meantime, two Colombian exchange students from Medellín were thrilled to arrive last week after a rigorous nine-month visa application process.
And once here, they were even more pleased. That's because they believed they'd be encountering negative stereotypes of their country. But those fears soon disappeared.
"People here are very open-minded, they don't have stereotypes of Colombians," said Carolina Giraldo, a 21-year-old business student.
The students were also pleasantly surprised that their own preconceived notions were quickly dismissed.
"I thought Canadian people could be more cold, apart," said 20-year-old Paola Gaviria, Giraldo's friend and also a business student. "But they really want to help you. And they really want to make friends. It's about accept(ing) people and get(ting) closer to your culture."
That's not to say they haven't felt the brunt of their country's reputation, which was sullied during high-profile drug wars that began long before either woman was born.
The students believe that history is the reason only short-term student visas were granted to them, which means they can only stay for one semester.
But they're gleeful at the opportunity to study in Canada and to be among those who help future Colombian youth shed a dubious past.
"We know we have a past, like the history of Colombia is not the best," said Giraldo. "But we cannot pay for the mistakes of the other Colombians so it's very difficult to change that idea. But we are trying to change it. That's why I'm here, because I want to show what Colombia is. It's like trying to take away old ideas and showing the new Colombia."
The two young women join 20-year-old Alvaro Posada in TRU's business program, who nodded vigorously in agreement as Giraldo spoke.
Also from Medellín, Posada entered the university in January 2011 and graduates here in 2014.
Posada, who is not an exchange student and was granted a long-term visa, shares the deep desire to represent his country honourably.
He also wanted to be among the first Colombian students to enter the university to be a resource for future fellow citizens and to be a trailblazer.
"You get to be one of the unique students out there," he said.
And after 18 months away with only one visit home, he's thrilled to have other Colombians to hang out with.
Posada is considering getting into the import-export business after graduating.
Giraldo is keen on international business as a way to fulfill her passion for travel and different culture.
And Gaviria wants to get an expertise in transportation — and she quickly found out that there's no better place to learn about it than in Kamloops.
"Our city is surrounded by mountains and transportation is not good to get to the coast," said Gaviria. "When I was here I was surprised with the railroads and the containers. I never seen that."