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Oakville school opens doors to international students

Written on May 7th, 2007

Sandra Cho moved to Oakville from South Korea last September. She is attending John Knox Christian School.

Sandra’s parents arranged for her to move to Canada primarily for educational reasons; so that she could learn English and French and study at a Christian school.

“They don’t have Christian schools in Korea,” says Sandra, noting that she especially enjoys the Christian elements at John Knox such as Bible class. “It’s pretty fun,” she says.

Sandra, a Grade 8 pupil, is one of nine international students attending the Oakville school. She typifies many of the school’s current international students. Most come from South Korea and are seeking a Christian educational experience, according to Principal John Lunshof.

Lunshof says there is a fair degree of demand for the school’s international student program. Next year 12 students are expected from overseas.

Most students come for about a year, he says. In many cases their parents remain in their home country and the students live with a guardian.

Sandra, who is one of the latter, says her parents will be moving to Canada next year for about several months.

Unlike most of the other international students, she plans to attend high school in Canada as well.

International students become involved in the whole school program at John Knox, according to Lunshof. For instance, Sandra has the opportunity to join the school band and participate in art programs.

The students are offered additional support through the school’s English as a Second Language co-ordinator, Ellen Louw.

“She withdraws them for a short as time as possible, no more than an hour or two a week because they and we want to integrate,” says Lunshof. “She makes sure they are staying on top of classroom work, that they understand what’s going on.”

Louw also provides added English instruction.

John Knox has opened its doors to international students for several reasons, according to the school’s International Student Program policy. Response to requests to provide service to international students, the opportunity to enrich the school’s culture, and the opportunity for the school to employ good stewardship are some of these.

Doing so also allows the Gospel’s reach to be extended, according to the policy.

“By introducing international students to our school, we are providing a wonderful opportunity for cross-cultural understanding to develop so that we can become effective co-workers in bringing God’s redemptive story to those who have not been exposed to it in an educational environment,” the policy states.

At the same time, the number of international students is limited to 15. This is to ensure the students are getting what they’re looking for, that is, immersion in a western, English-speaking culture, according to Lunshof.

Sandra, who speaks excellent English, says she adjusted quickly to the new culture and school.

“It wasn’t hard to make new friends and the teachers helped a lot.”

She will probably return to Korea after high school, she says.