One of the very unique aspects of Golden Hills’ schools within Strathmore is the extensive international study program, which harbours several students from approximately 15 countries across the world each year. Many students have lived here between eight months and five years, an extremely long time to be away from their family. In response to the need for homestay families for these students, several people in Strathmore and area have opened their homes. Currently, there is a great need for more places for these students to live and Golden Hills School Division is asking that others take part in this fantastic opportunity to mentor a student and to learn from each other's cultures.
Students can be as young as elementary students or as old as high school students and often stay with their homestay family for approximately one to two semesters (August 30-January 31 or February 1-June 30).
Many of these international students emphasize their desire to be integrated as a Canadian and family member and mentioned that they came to learn more than English. Jane Ho, a 17 year old student from Hong Kong, calls her homestay caregiver, Lindsay Mullins, “Mom”, and really appreciates the familial dynamic she has had while living with them away from her own family. Through tears, Jane said “I feel like I’m part of the family”, and the other students spoke about how they have fostered strong connections with their homestay parents and the children they live with.
“I’ve never had any brothers. I have two sisters who are my age, so having two little kids, I’m going to miss how they grow up and that’s really hard for me”, said Rosalia Pérez Lorenzo, a 17 year old from Spain, who is currently living with Christine and Stewart Scott.
When looking for homestay families, the students hope to find people who are interested in sharing their culture, learning from their student’s culture, and developing good communication skills. They shared intimate memories of spending holidays together, such as Christmas and Halloween, and celebrating their birthdays together.
“If you want to learn English … just go to an international school wherever you are … you come here [for the] experience”, said Reuben Shiu, a 17 year old from Hong Kong who is living under the care of Alice and Leonard Le Cerf.
A homestay is not meant to be a hotel-style bed and breakfast, it is a home where a student is welcomed as a part of a Canadian family. Natally Esranda, an 18 year old from Mexico, shared how much this is of value to her: “If you really want to know what Canadians do or how they live, what they eat or where they go or what they do to spend time, I think the best way is to just go to homestay.”
In addition to their homestays, the students are excited by the school-related opportunities that are not offered in their home countries, such as joining sports teams and enrolling in optional courses such as photography, dance, construction, and leadership. James Yu, an 18 year old from The Republic of Korea said, “tons of international kids come to this little town …I’m so lucky to be here to study.” He has been living in Canada within GHSD’s International program for approximately five years.
On the homepage of the GHSD website at ghsd75.ca, please view Strathmore High School’s 2015 International Week YouTube video celebrating these students and many others. If you have any questions about taking part in the homestay experience, please contact Floyd Cotton at 403-934-5121 extension 2054, or 403-901-3323. He can also be reached with the following email: Accommodations@ghsd75.ca.