A group of 21 students and three teachers from China have come to Vanderhoof to learn about Canadian culture and get exposed to school life here.
The students are from Zhuhai city, in the Guangdong Province in China. They go to a private school called Yung Wing in Zhuhai city. Because of different age groups, the students have been divided into four schools from elementary up to high school, within the district.
Ivy Zhen, one of the teachers accompanying the students from China said, learning English is their first goal. But apart from that, understanding the difference in schooling systems in both countries is also fascinating to her, she said.
“School life is totally different in the two countries. In China, maybe we have hard work in school and here [there are] more activities and more freedom… They all do something interesting during spell time here. In China, we don’t. It’s different,” she said.
Apart from her time helping with the students, Zhen said it’s her first time in Canada and she likes the life here. She loves snow, and said the students were amazed by how cold it is but are having a great time playing in the snow too. The kids are enjoying themselves both in and after school, Zhen added.
“Sometimes they are shy to talk in class but they have made a lot of friends here who they go and play with.”
Apart from school, the students have had a week packed with extracurricular activities.
Mark Guthier, principal of Evelyn Dickson Elementary, said the international students arrived Jan. 20 and were taken snowshoeing on Jan. 21 after school. Through the week they also visited Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre, a buffalo bison ranch, and they also went to Nechako Valley Secondary School for a Lego Robotics fare on Jan. 24, he said.
Apart from these activities, many more have been planned for them until they leave on Feb. 1.
The international students are housed with home stay families and Charlene Seguin, former Superintendent of Schools at School District No. 91 said the community has been very supportive. A lot of people in the community showed interest in hosting the students and it has been a great experience for everyone, she said.
One of the hosts, Becki Larsen who is a teacher at Evelyn Dickson Elementary has two international students and a teacher staying with her. “The experience of winter has been amazing for them… And they are finding it different here because there [in China] they go to school from 7:30 am to 9 pm at night and then have homework,” she said.
Larsen along with her guests will be hiking out to a camp in the woods on the weekend.
Meanwhile, Seguin said the School District No. 91 has maintained a good relationship with Yung Wing School in China and have partnered in similar projects before. This experience allows interaction with their peers from a different country and gives each of them a better understanding of each other’s culture.