An international student from Mexico revisited his host family in Vanderhoof this year after he first came for a five-month study abroad experience in January.
Nicolas Mena Lopez stayed with Denise Foley and her family in Vanderhoof from January until June 2022. He attended Nechako Valley Secondary School in Grade 11. Lopez was an excellent student at NVSS with a full academic course load.
“As house guests go, Nicolas was lovely and helped out often, always offering a helping hand. His fondness for mechanical work found him spending many hours working with my son and husband on a classic truck restoration project they have,” Foley said.
Lopez had many new experiences from cattle branding to boys’ rugby. He came to Vanderhoof from a city and left in jeans, boots and a cowboy belt buckle.
After a short return home, Lopez came back to Canada in July with 42 other travelers.
When Lopez’ school in Guadalajara was organizing the trip, they decided to add an overnight stop in Vanderhoof on the Foleys’ recommendation that they break up the long drive from Anchorage to Whistler.
The group consisted of young people aged 15-22, traveling in two large vans and a modified truck with a cargo trailer. They left Mexico on July 1, traveled from Guadalajara and traveled up to the Grand Canyon. From there they went to the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, into Canada to Calgary, over to Banff and Lake Louise. They journeyed up to Jasper and ventured further into the north, all the way to Anchorage, Alaska.
After some mountain climbing, they started on their way to Vanderhoof where they ran into a bit of a mechanical hiccup. A mechanic in Dease Lake was able to get the van running and they made their way to Vanderhoof by July 30.
“Our middle son and a friend took a flat deck trailer to go and rescue them and ended up meeting up with them in Kitwanga. Once the caravan got to Vanderhoof my husband was able to repair the coolant leak, do the oil changes, check brakes and rotate the tires on their vehicles”
“They stayed on the farm in tents and hammocks. We made a huge dinner of spaghetti, Caesar salad, garlic bread and veggies for the crew. They had a campfire, ate s’mores until the wee hours. Then in the morning I made what felt like a million pancakes, cut up three big watermelon, muffins and fruit trays,” Foley said. The group left for Whistler at 1:30 p.m. and made their way back into the United States for some more hiking, and then were back in Mexico by Aug. 15.
Foley said her experience hosting international students has been great. Her family has had students visit from Germany, France, Mexico and currently Spain.
“Our family has learned about other cultures and has welcomed these new family members. The students have been polite, helpful and a pleasure to have in our home. They become a part of the family and we all stay in touch.”
The Rocky Mountain International Student Program brings students from around the world to public schools in Revelstoke, Golden, Invermere, Kimberley, Cranbrook, Fernie, Sparwood, Burns Lake and Vanderhoof in B.C.
Photo caption: 43 travellers from Mexico make a stop at Vanderhoof farm during their visit to Canada. One of these travelers had spent time in Vanderhoof from January to June this year as an international student.