Westside Secondary School to welcome Japanese students for cultural visit

March 25, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Students at Westside Secondary School will be teaching a group of visiting Japanese students about Canadian culture while learning a little about their visitor’s way of life when 24 foreign students spend ten days in Orangeville and tour the surrounding area.

The visit at the school is organized through the Upper Grand District School Board’s International Program in partnership with Red Leaf Canada.

Visiting students are between ages 14 and 18 and are billeted with local families in Orangeville, Shelburne and Caledon. They arrived on Thursday, March 21, and received an official welcome at the school the following morning.

The Japanese students attend several different schools in their home country.

The visiting students are paired up with a Westside student on campus during their stay.

“The students who volunteer are a little nervous at first, but the kids forge a relationship,” said Westside Faculty Coordinator, Christine Kirkland. “The kids are required to have lunch together. The visiting students will all take ELS course in the morning and see regular classes for the rest of the day.”

Visiting students may speak some English but most have very limited knowledge of the language.

“Google translator is a big help,” Ms. Kirkland said of the one ways students can communicate with each other.

It won’t be just school for the visitors. They also get an education by visiting several locations in Toronto including the CN tower, and the Royal Ontario Museum, as well as taking a trip to see Niagara Falls.

Red Leaf Canada is an organization that brings students from several countries and has active programs in several smaller centres across the country.

“They prefer smaller towns because they are more community based,” explained host family coordinator, Linda Houseman. “In Orangeville people are more connected to each other than in larger centres. The idea is to bring students from other countries to experience Canadian education and Canadian culture.”

This is the second year that Westside has participated in the program.

“Typically we look for host families that have a student in the school around the same age,” Ms. Houseman explained. “That hasn’t always worked so then we look for a family that can take one or two students. Families do it for the experience, not the money,” adding that Westside will benefit monetarily from the program.

Each family will also contribute to the student’s stay by helping them experience different aspects of local culture.

The Island Lake Maple Syrup Festival is a popular place to take the visiting student and they really enjoy seeing how maple syrup is produced and taking a bottle of syrup home with them. Families also take students to sporting events and other festival taking place in the area.

The visiting students will be in the area until they depart on Saturday, March 30.


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