The world is indeed a small place and as countries such as China and Korea continue a feverish pace of growth, families there are looking to give their children the best opportunities possible for success.
Increasingly these families are turning to Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) member schools as a means to provide a core foundation of success in a globalized world.
Chatham Christian Schools’ (CCS) international student program illustrates the role that Christian education can play in nurturing the ambitions of such families.
Linda Wolting is the director of development at CSS, and she says the international program serves a number of purposes for students and their Canadian peers.
Students may simply want to experience a new culture for a short period of time, while others are here to immerse themselves in Christian education with the ambitious goal of acquiring a degree from a Canadian institution.
The value of a firm command of the English language is a major focus for students who come for a year or more.
“The students we have coming from China come for typically two to two and a half years, and they don’t come until Grades 10 or 11,” says Wolting.
“Their intent is to get a Canadian university education.”
Last year the first international student from CSS successfully finished his diploma and was accepted to his chosen university. This year, Wolting says five more students are in line to achieve their goals.
She says there are tangible financial benefits for the school through tuition and registration fees, which she says helps the school maintain economic viability.
Other benefits aren’t as easily defined.
Some international students have been very active and involved in the school community and all students then benefit from a mutual cultural learning experience.
Wolting points to a day last year when Chinese students cooked an authentic meal for the entire student body, as an example.
The opportunity to share Christian values with students who may not have much experience with religion is another great benefit of the program.
“We have had students who have made the decision for Christ in our international program, which is just phenomenal,” says Wolting.
She says it’s rewarding to hear from students who say how much impact their time at CSS had on their lives, long after their time there ended.