Welcome Home: Canada’s Student-Exchange Program Making A Difference
The families based in North Nanaimo are preparing to play perfect hosts to 32 Japanese visitors later this month. This is a part of the of the student-exchange initiative undertaken by the Muskoka Language International. The project aims to establish a connection between visiting foreign students and the Canadian citizens.
A warm welcome: The student-exchange program has been set up to help students coming in to Canada from abroad to adapt better to the Canadian culture and way of life. In the initiative’s latest bid, 32 Japanese nationals will be stationed in the homes of Nanaimo families from July 25 to Aug 9.
During the period of time, the students will spend time with families and begin an exchange of topics discussing about each other’s culture, tradition, and lifestyle. It will be a learning experience for both sides. The Japanese students, who generally have restricted English, will get an opportunity to expose themselves to the Canadian way of speech and jargon. Families from one of the schools in Nanaimo – the Dover Secondary School – participate in this exchange four times a year.
Win- Win for Canada and Migrated Students: The authorities’ in-charge pays the families a salary ranging in between $25 to $30 to manage the expenses – like transportation, grocery etc. For most of the families that play hosts to the teenaged students, it’s a very noble and inquisitive exercise.
Marjorie Dobbyn has been hosting and interacting with exchange for over a decade now. She welcomed her first exchange student 11 years ago. She says its helps one and other to learn about different cultures. The student-exchange initiative has enabled her to bond with other homestay families in Nanaimo. And their interactions most comprise of exchanging stories and discussing ideas about being a better host.
Students of the Rising Sun:
Dobbyn speaks very highly of the Japanese students who visited Nanaimo in the past. She paints them in a very positive light. Japanese people value courtesy very much and are extremely polite. The students usually express gratitude profusely for small acts of generosity. The Japanese girls often use their culinary skills and cook up meals as a token of appreciation.
Dobbyn reckons mingling with international students benefits both sides equally and broadens horizons and understanding. A common perception states that for many of the Nanaimo residents, hosting exchange-students is an uphill task, however Dobbyn refutes saying that proper organizational skills can make it a pleasant experience.
A Sumo Salute: The visit of the students culminates at the multi-purpose room of the Dover Secondary School, where the students and families put together a Japanese-themed entertainment show, which turns out to be a heartfelt experience for all.