As the school year begins to wrap up many students will prepare for a nice summer vacation at home, but for some international students going back home for the summer is a plane ride and potentially a continent away.
The Golden Hills School Division (GHSD) runs its yearly international student homestay program, and Principal for Golden Hills International Carmen Spitzer says it was another great year.
"We've had some tremendous homestay families; we can't brag about them enough. They're so caring, supportive and accommodating to the needs of the students as well. We have homestay families who keep in touch with their kids throughout the summer, and we'll have them return back to their homes again in September," she said.
Even though the school year is coming to a close, Spitzer says it's never too early to start thinking about hosting a student. The earlier you start planning and reach out to the GHSD, the better chance they'll be able to pair you with a student that's perfect for you.
Spitzer says there are many benefits to homestay, for both the student and the family. In her experience, she says she's heard many positive experiences and stories from families who took in a student and enjoyed the experience.
"(The family) gets to learn new cultures, there could be different kinds of foods that they could learn to cook just and then the overall experience of teaching a person English, having them in your house all the time, sharing different cultures and traditions and just learning something new and promoting Canada."
On top of the enjoyment the family gets out of it, she said there's the added benefit of knowing you're giving an international student an incredible experience, as homestay is often a better experience than a dorm, as far as learning about the country.
"(Students) feel that closer connection and when the student is having a one-on-one experience with a host family, they are able to get the Canadian traditions quite a bit more than if they were in the dormitory for example. They do the one-on-one trips, family dinners, and get to see the different family traditions."
Sometimes the experience is so great that the family will go visit the student in their home country as well, so Spitzer said being a homestay family also opens up these connections to travel and broaden your own horizons too.
At the moment Strathmore is experiencing a shortage of homestay host families and would love to have more families join. If you are interested, she said the GHSD provides a monetary monthly amount to help with various costs like groceries, trips, shopping, etc. The application process itself is quite quick, but she encourages interested families to sign up right away so the GHSD can find a perfect student to match your family's interests.
If you are interested in learning more or signing up, you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or through their website ghsd-international.com.
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