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Monsignor Clancy welcomes international students 0

By Jeff Blay, Special to The Standard

Monsignor Clancy Catholic elementary school will have 43 new students for the next two weeks.

As part of a partnership between the Niagara Catholic District School Board and the Jeolladuc-Do Human Resources Development Foundation, based in South Korea, the program focuses on developing the English skills of Korean students ranging from Grades 5-8.

“This foundation grants scholarships for young elementary students to experience a school setting in a different country,” explained Fred Wilson, the NCDSB’s supervisor of International Education.

“It’s mostly with the intent of developing their English language skills so that as they get older so they will have that competitive edge over others when it comes to apply for post-secondary school or entering the workforce.”

Forty-three Korean students will be at Monsignor Clancy for two weeks, where they will go through intensive ESL training, before being integrated into various catholic elementary schools throughout Niagara for another five weeks.

“It’s quite a vision they have to develop these young students and expose them to different cultures other than their own,” Wilson said.

One example of a cultural difference some visiting students recognize is that Canadian schools allow their students to take recess breaks. Wilson says many students have said recess is one of their favourite experiences this far as they get to take a break from learning and interact with Canadian students.

All 43 students will also be staying with local host families organized through the board’s program, which Wilson says provides a unique opportunity for both the visiting students and local families.

“That’s also an opportunity for them to integrate with a Canadian family and experience the Canadian culture,” he said. “When I say it’s a cultural experience for the visiting students, it’s also a cultural experience for our local Canadian kids and families, because they have the opportunity to learn about the visiting culture and interact with them.”

Under Wilson’s leadership, the board has been running these types of programs since 2001, but this year is the first time Monsignor Clancy has hosted a large group of this nature all at once.

“Normally, we distribute the students across the system right away, but this time they wanted some ESL training all together,” Wilson explained. “As of the third week, the 43 students will be dispersed throughout different schools in St. Catharines, Thorold, Niagara Falls and Beamsville.”

The Niagara Catholic District School Board has staff specifically trained as International English Instructors to work with the visiting students and teach them English as a second language.

Along with experiencing the classroom environment, visiting students also have plenty of opportunities to sightsee throughout the region.

“We also have activity monitors that organize the day trips and excursions,” Wilson said, adding some of those will include trips to Niagara Falls and Toronto, as well as attending different events such as hockey games or museum exhibits.

According to Wilson, the program has been wildly successful since the board began running it over 10 years ago.

“It’s been very well received and everyone involved seems to really enjoy it,” he said.

For families wishing to become a host family for visiting students, Wilson encourages anyone interested to contact him at fred.wilson@ncdsb.com.

jeff.blay@sunmedia.ca

 

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