School District 71 will host two groups of international exchange students over the next few months.
Six students from Vanier’s sister school in Japan, Koza-Kushimoto High School, are in the Comox Valley until March 18. An additional 14 students from Chang Mai, Thailand will arrive March 16 for two months.
These students will participate in regular classes as well as ESL/cultural classes. They will partake in a variety of world-class activities that the Comox Valley and Vancouver Island has to offer, including winter sports at Mount Washington, fossil hunting, and kayaking, as well as visits to Hornby Island and Victoria.
Volunteer students from each school will act as school guides to help the visiting students navigate the schools and connect to a larger social network. The Koza group will be based out of G.P. Vanier High School, while the Thai group will be distributed among Mark. R. Isfeld Secondary School, G.P. Vanier High School, and Lake Trail Middle School.
The International Student Program has launched several successful short-term group exchanges in addition to the more traditional medium-length, full year, multi-year student exchanges and summer programs that are offered. There are 135 full-time international students representing 22 countries from around the world studying in School District 71.
Vice-principal Brian McAskill strongly supports the international program.
“The G.P. Vanier students, staff and administration are extremely excited to host a group of students from our sister school, Koza, in Japan. In today’s global society it is vitally important to expose our students to aspects of the various cultures around the world.”
Short-term group exchanges offer a condensed glimpse of our school system, intensive experience- based ESL learning, “best of” sights and activities package as well as an opportunity to make new social connections and share culture.
James Spruit, an international student program teacher, notes benefits to everyone involved, including host families and school guides.
“Students make remarkable strides in their English and confidence, but the real benefits are the long-term international friendships that result.”
The International Student Program has worked hard to build relationships with schools in several countries, including the Kasiga School in India. Two years ago, Isfeld students were able to visit students and teachers from Dehradun, India with whom they had formed relationships while the Indian students were studying in the Comox Valley.
“Two years ago we were very fortunate to host teachers and students from Kasogi School in Dehradun, northern India,” says Gerald Fussell, vice-principal of Mark R. Isfeld. “With the leadership of our International Student Program and Isfeld teachers Jodie Zuccato, Leah Baron, and Jon Bos, our students and families had an incredibly positive and richly rewarding experience.
“This year, we have a very vibrant and friendly group coming from Thailand and we are very excited to have them in our school district.”
If you are interested being a host family for an international students in the future for a short, medium, or long-term exchange contact the International Student Program office at 250-703-2904 or visit www.studyinbritishcolumbia.com for more information.
— School District 71