CDSBEO International Education Program Continues to Grow

Three international students stand with the trustee, chair, and director of education at the CDSBEO board meeting on March 19.

The CDSBEO International Education Program offers global views and perspectives that enhance the education of students who have chosen to explore cultures and languages through education abroad. The International Student Program allows students from around the world to study and learn alongside Canadian students of the same age. The program encourages cultural awareness and international understanding by bringing students together and enabling them to experience similar social and academic opportunities.

Since its inception in the spring of 2015, the program has continued to grow as the Board develops and grows relationships with new partners in existing and new countries. The development of relationships and partnerships are key to developing and supporting the program.

Dave Chaplin, Principal of St. James Catholic Education Centre and Head of International Education, presented information to the Board, along with three international students Urara Mori (Japan), Lorena Requeno (Spain), and Ken Fan (China), and St. Mary CHS Principal JP Elliott.

Mr. Chaplin began, “The program has experienced a lot of growth over the three years, and we are pleased with its overall success. I am happy to be here this evening to share the details of International Education in the CDSBEO, and to provide an opportunity for some of our students to share their experiences.”

Staff and students are very excited to welcome international students to their schools and communities. During the 2018-2019 school year, the CDSBEO hosted 134 students from abroad. This number is up from 93 students in 2017-2018.

“When we first started we had some 20 students in 2015-2016. As we moved into 2016-2017 we moved up to almost 75 students, and for this year, we have nearly doubled this number,” noted Chaplin.

“One of the things I really moved forward with this year, and this was sort of the next step, was working to form partnerships with different countries. The friendship agreements that have been established, provide opportunities to learn new languages and better understand other cultures, customs and educational practices,” continued Chaplin. “These agreements help to build bridges for long term relationships.”

Some of the programs born from the partnerships include the hosting of delegations, teacher training and summer cultural programs. In addition, the Board will be hosting 39 elementary students from China, at three schools in Brockville. The students will spend a week with CDSBEO students, and the principal of the school will also accompany the students, along with six chaperones.

“Our students have already begun the introduction by sending a letter of welcome prior to their arrival, and the students have written back. We hope that this experience will help them to build and continue their friendships, and we hope that someday our students will travel to China to experience education there. The school, which is called Elite Cradle, has a large residence. That really is the next step – to have our students travel the world.”

Other programs include a partnership a Chinese Kindergarten school, which would see Kindergarten students travel to Canada with a parent for one month, to attend Kindergarten in a CDSBEO school, and a second intermediate school education and cultural exchange program. Plans are also underway for a French six-week exchange program.

“Developing strong partnerships are truly important in continuing to expand our international program,” noted Chaplin.

Several international students who have been attending St. Mary Catholic High School in Brockville, shared their experiences of living and learning in Canada.

“Canada is less stressful than Japan,” noted student Urara Mori. “School days are much longer in Japan, up to 12 hours, and in Canada we have more free time. My best memory was Christmas – in our country we don’t have religion and I attended a real church at Christmas, and enjoyed everyone getting together.”

“I’ve never studied as much as I have in Canada,” explained Lorena Requeno. “I have never been so thankful, this is a whole new experience for me, and I am so happy to graduate here in Ontario. I would absolutely recommend this experience to everyone.”

Ken Fan, who has attended St. Mary CHS for two years, discussed the differences between Canadian and Chinese education.

“In China, most of the high schools are boarding schools, and we have to hand in our cell phone at the start of the week, so we are not allowed to have our cell phone during the school week. The day starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m., and we have 6 days a week. Learning in Canada can be stressful, but mainly because of the language.”

“What a gift it is to host these students,” noted Principal JP Elliott. “There are always a few key people who take these students under their wings, and I personally take an interest in every one of these students, on an individual basis, as it is of importance to our schools. They bring culture to our small rural communities. These partnerships and the opportunities they provide for our students are essential. We are thankful for the rich experiences that this program provides through the friendships they develop, and all that they learn from each other.”

“The excellent results we see in the program is directly connected to the enthusiasm you exude for the program, as well as that of the principals who welcome the students. You can’t put a price on that enthusiasm, and that is exactly what you always project whenever you speak to us, whenever you bring students here to share their story,” noted Vice-Chair Eamer.

“We would like to thank you, Mr. Chaplin, for all of your work, and for establishing such an amazing program for our students, and in all the work you have done to grow this program to offer so many different facets and varying opportunities,” concluded Chair Todd Lalonde.

Three international students stand with the trustee, chair, and director of education at the CDSBEO board meeting on March 19.

Photo left to right: Chair Todd Lalonde, Trustee Robin Reil, Ken Fan, Lorena Requeno, Urara Mori, Director of Education John Cameron