While Cornwall and area school children are frantically anticipating the looming summer break, their counterparts overseas are waiting with baited breath for September.
As many as 150 students from places like China, Germany and Mexico will be spending the entire school year at schools in and around Cornwall, as welll as the balance of the Upper Canada District School Board, as part of international programming activities.
Jennifer Duplain, international education program co-ordinator, with the Upper Canada Leger Centre, said the program helps overseas students gain a greater grasp of the English language and also introduce them to Canadian culture.
“Canada is one of the best countries to come to because we speak such clear English,” said Duplain, noting overseas families tend to avoid England and certain parts of the U.S. because of the accents in those regions. “And I think it’s a great opportunity for our Canadian students to learn from students from another country.”
Many of the students who come to Canada from places like China are hoping to avoid the stiff competition they face in their homeland when it comes to educational opportunities. Many overseas students go on to study business and finance, where the language is often English.
“Many of the students also decide to stay here and pursue their post-secondary (studies),” she said.
Brenda Manning, relationship manager with Canada Homestay International, said the issue now becomes one of trying to find homes for the incoming students.
Canada Homestay International is seeking families to host the children during their stay. A monthly stipend is provided to the families to cover the added costs of food and the like. The children are expected to be cared for just like any other member of the family during their stay in Canada.
“This (event) has really gotten big,” said Manning.
Most of the students coming to Canada come from privileged families, where money isn’t much of an issue.
“A lot of these families are business owners,” said Manning. “So they will continue to build their businesses.”
On top of the dozens of students who will spend the entire year in and around Cornwall studying, students from Mexico, Spain, Colombia and other countries will be visiting the city and area as part of short-term visit that last only a few weeks. These students are usually accompanied by chaperones from their school, but still require housing upon arrival.
For more information on becoming a host family, contact Manning at 613-937-2573, ext. 2043.
And for more information on the program contact Carmen Cousineau, director of International Education Program 613-933-5505 ext. 4906 or Tim Mills, Upper Canada Leger Centre executive director at 613-933-5505 ext. 4904.