Our International Student Program
For close to twenty years there have been a number of international students studying in the Chilliwack School District from countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Ghana, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
The International Student Program extends to public school-aged children the opportunity to join the students of Chilliwack School District by paying fees to cover the cost of providing their education. The stay can be for a school year, longer than a school year, or shorter than a school year, depending on objectives and personal preferences. Students in grade five or older can live with their parents, or as is usually the case, we find appropriate homestay families for the children. If a student is in grade four or younger they may enter our Program but they MUST LIVE WITH ONE OR BOTH OF THEIR PARENTS.
We believe that when students come together here from other parts of the world, they learn from each other and benefit from the bonds of friendship that form. In turn, we all understand and accept the richness of our diversity and we work hard to strengthen the relationships between the people of different countries.
International students are able to choose from the same extensive and varied learning opportunities that the students of Chilliwack enjoy. Students will make selections according to their personal learning goals: to improve their use of English, to learn various sciences, to explore the arts, to continue with a recreational interest, or practically whatever their hearts desire, as the opportunities are almost endless. If the intention is to achieve a British Columbia Graduation Certificate and/or to enter a post-secondary college or university in Canada, then graduation and entrance requirements must be met.
What we offer
We offer three different learning programs based on the needs and desires of our international students:
The Graduation Program
This is a yearly program for which students will select courses of interest and value and which meets the requirements for a B.C. Graduation Certificate and college or university entrance. Students will enroll in a full time course program, will receive regular intensive language instruction, and will be encouraged to participate fully in all aspects of school and family life. Often this is a two or three - year program, beginning in grade 11 or grade 10, but a number of our students come to us at a much younger age and stay until graduation.
The Learning Exploration Program
This is a one-year program for which students select courses of interest and value but not necessarily to fulfill graduation requirements for a British Columbia Graduation Certificate and college or university entrance. The main focus beyond the content of specific subjects is the development of English language skills and to experience Canadian culture. Students will enroll in a full time course program, will receive regular intensive language instruction, and will be encouraged to participate fully in all aspects of school and family life.
The school year in Chilliwack School District begins in September and concludes in June. However, we are able to accommodate alternate beginning and concluding times in most circumstances. For example, we have had a number of students whose school year finished in March come to our District in April to audit classes until the end of June. By doing so they greatly improve their English, make new friends, and familiarize themselves with their new environment before starting classes for real in September.
Please note that your fees cover your child only for a regular school year (September - June) and he or she must leave Chilliwack between July 5 and August 25 each summer. Our experience has taught us that there are a number of good reasons that this must occur. This allows everyone to "recharge their batteries" over the summer and we highly recommend that your child goes home (although if you prefer for your child to stay in some part of Canada, or travel elsewhere, that is your prerogative) to reconnect with his family, friends, and culture. Studying and living in Chilliwack is a tremendous opportunity for international students, but one must not lose sight of the fact that these are still children we are dealing with, and the benefits of a rejuvenating summer at home, in almost all cases, does wonders for the student's mental well-being and academic performance when the new school year starts in September.
Special Services for International Students
The International Student Program Administrator will be available at all times to assist and counsel our students and to help with any difficulties that might arise within the school setting or in their personal lives. Furthermore, Chilliwack School District also offers the services of a Homestay Coordinator to ensure that our international students are well taken care of on the homestay front as well.
Counseling and related forms of assistance will be provided by a professional team of Counselors in each middle school and high school to deal with the day-to-day issues, questions and concerns each student may have. As well, our high schools also have on staff Career Advisors who manage an extensive collection of college, university, and technical institute information from throughout North America and they are on hand to assist every student in any way with regards to charting a future career plan for each one of them. They work together with our international students on their computer assisted career guidance services and through our Internet connections to various career information caches to provide our international students with the best career advise and information possible. Furthermore, our high schools have Program Site Coordinators to provide whatever assistance our international students may need.
Although international students are prohibited by Canadian law from acquiring paid employment, there is nothing to prohibit them from participating in what the majority of students enjoy – school sponsored work experience. We think it is of benefit to our international students to experience non-paid, supervised work in one or several of the many businesses in the Chilliwack area. Our Work Experience Coordinators will respond to the expressed interests and desires of a student by finding a suitable work experience placement and making all the arrangements so that a student can experience working in a veterinary clinic, or an accounting firm, or a hotel, or a retail store, or an agricultural research centre, or a museum, or wherever! Such experiences can be extremely helpful in assisting students to decide on future careers and post-secondary learning plans.
Naturally having a safe, comfortable, and welcoming place to stay is a central requirement for a quality international studies program. A homestay with a Canadian family will fulfil these needs as well as provide an enriching cultural experience. Canadian families will welcome our international students into their homes and provide for them as they would a member of the family, inviting them to participate in everyday activities as well as special recreational and cultural excursions. There is no better way for international students to learn about the ways and lifestyles of Canadians, to learn and use English speaking skills, and to form close and valued friendships that can last a lifetime. Within Chilliwack there are numerous fine homes and families interested in hosting our international students. Each of our selected homestay families has been carefully screened by our Homestay Coordinator.
The community of Chilliwack is conveniently located close to Vancouver International Airport, the main terminal for all flights to and from destinations throughout the world. Once your host family greets you at the airport you are but an hour and thirty minutes away from being in your new home away from home!