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Host families needed for Taiwanese exchange students this summer

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014 12:23 pm

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From July 3 to 26, 62 Taiwanese teenagers ranging in age from 16 to 17 years old will be making Airdrie and Cochrane home as they participate in a homestay experience. However, organizers of the visit say, 10 to 15 local homestay host families are urgently needed to accommodate the students.

“International education programs are growing across the country, but especially in places like Cochrane and Airdrie that offer truly authentic Canadian experiences,” said Canada Homestay Network Managing Director Jennifer Wilson in a press release.

“The quality of the Canadian education system is the backbone of international education in this country but the homestay experience is an important factor in the decision for students to study here.”

“One of the biggest benefits (for host families) is the cultural exchange,” said Renee Gillespie, Canada Homestay Network relationship manager for the Rocky View area.

“It is such a great opportunity to have that cultural exchange in your own home.”

She said she always encourages host families to have the student make a meal for them as this is a great way to experience some authentic cuisine.

Gillespie added the cultural exchange goes both ways and the students often help host families get a new perspective on their community.

“For me it’s been a re-appreciation for what we have around us, like the mountains,” she said.

Host families that open their doors to these students will receive $25 per student, per night from Canada Homestay Network, a non-profit organization that brings international students and host families together. That works out to $550 for hosting one student in your home and $1,100 for two.

“Students favour engaged, active families who will help them learn English, include them in their discussions, activities and excursions, and introduce them to the city and Canadian culture,” Wilson said.

“It’s great for the kids (to stay with host families),” Gillespie said. “I see these kids come into our community and learn so much.”

Students have classes and activities scheduled for each weekday, which generally run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but weekends are free for host families to show the students their favourite things to see and do in the area.

Host families are also able to grow their understanding of the world and its people, and help to ensure their local economy benefits from the booming international education industry by hosting these students.

The Taiwanese students that come here will get to learn more of the English language and about Canadian culture. They also get a positive introduction to Canadian family life, which in turn encouraged many to apply for permanent residency after graduation, according to the Canada Homestay Network press release.

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, Canada ranks as the seventh most popular destination for international students, the country derives $8 billion annually from international student expenditures including tuition and living expenses, and the presence of international students in the country created over 83,000 jobs and generated more than $291 million in government revenue in 2009.

“The Canada Homestay Network’s goal is to make international students feel comfortable, supported and safe so they can take full advantage of their time studying in Canada,” Wilson said.

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