The Comox Valley International Student Program is seeking host families to provide a supportive home environment for international students during the summer months.
Host families are required throughout the year, however the summer program offers families a short-term introduction to the experience of sharing their home and their culture with an international student. Being a host family is rewarding and challenging and opens the door to educational experiences that benefit everyone involved.
The International Student Program is well-established and has operated in the Comox Valley since 2005; its summer program has been available to students since 2008.
The school enrols students in Grades 6 to 12 from countries around the world, providing them with an education that prepares and positions them for acceptance in the best universities. This calibre of education is highly valued by their parents at home, who often want their other children to share in this positive experience.
International students who successfully complete one year are often keen to return to continue their education. The people who fill the important role of family support are appreciated, and often life-long relationships are formed.
Host families play an important role in the success of the school’s programs, and provide a safe and supportive home life that eases the transition to new cultural experiences.
Students come to the Comox Valley from many countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Spain and Germany.
For most students, it is the first time they’ve been away from their natural parents for an extended length of time and the first time they have been immersed in an English-speaking community. For others it may be the first time they experience some of the recreational activities available here such as skiing, hiking, or being near the ocean.
Cultural differences are expected, and the transition for students and families is well supported by the school’s caring support team.
“This is our first year as a host family with the International Student Program,” says Marlene Labreque, “and we would highly recommend the experience. Our sons have really enjoyed having older teens in house and it has given us a sneak preview of what it’ll be like to have our own teens.
“The respect and appreciation of these students is a great family influence, and their stay with us has gotten us out doing things that we’ve been meaning to do. They’ve introduced new flavours and conversation to the dinner table, and renewed our sense of adventure.”
The school’s host family co-ordinator, Younhee Edmonds, is familiar with these adjustments. Originally from Korea and once an international student herself, she understands some of the challenges that students and families have.
She oversees the application process for student placement, interviews students and families, and works to find the most compatible arrangements. She also provides orientation sessions to talk about dietary differences, day to day routines, family expectations and guidelines for discipline.
Visit www.studyinbritishcolumbia.com for more information, or call 250-792-0101 or 250-218-9605.
— Comox Valley International Student Program