About four years ago, a Korean businessman came to Ontario looking for a partnership. His focus was training the future leaders of South Korea and he needed a school where these children could hone their English skills, and wholesome families to care for them during their stay.
He found the ideal match when he visited Strathroy Community Christian School.
“Our school sold the program,” says Sheila Pelleboer, the school’s administrative assistant. “When he came to our school one of the first things he noticed was that our students came up to him and greeted him.”
The students weren’t prompted, she says. They warmly opened their arms and welcomed the visitor and he was struck by their genuine hospitality and overall personality of the school.
Close to 200 Keystone students have since felt that same compassion and principal Ken VanMinnen couldn’t be more proud of the partnership.
He says one of the greatest rewards in sharing space with the exceptional Korean visitors is the opportunity for cultural enrichment provided to the students, staff and families.
A shared cultural experience, says VanMinnen, “really broadens our students’ perspectives.”
“You can live in Strathroy all your life and think certain things that will never be challenged but when you have someone coming from the other side of the world, a lot of things start to be questioned, and this is a good thing — critical thinking is one of the elements of schooling that we want to nurture.”
The school provides the major component of academic improvement for the Keystone visitors while the families that open their homes provide spiritual enrichment.
Every new cohort of Korean visitors is immersed in love in both the adopted homes and the school, and VanMinnen says the consistency of that love is why the school is now in the midst of its ninth session with Keystone.
Thanks to the foundation laid by the Strathroy school, the Keystone program has expanded to fellow Ontario Alliance of Christian School members in Woodstock and London, and a new generation of leaders will shape Korea’s future with memories of their time in Ontario in their hearts.