Langley School District is looking for families to open their hearts and home for international students soon to arrive in Canada.
Through its International Students Program, the district is hoping to “enrich global students with Canadian values,” and find a perfect host family for each student.
As the beginning of school year approaches, about 400 to 500 international students will look for homestay options in Langley and nearby regions.
Every year the district’s homestay team receives a high number of applications from families. Team members then read through all the applications to match the personal interests of the student with the lifestyle of the homestay family.
Mark Leiper, district principal of the International Student Program said that his team carefully analyzes homestay families’ information before recommending a match to provide a safe, warm, and welcoming environment to their students. Families hosting a student are provided compensation, too for their time, efforts, and unconditional love.
He added that a homestay setting allows students to experience Canadian culture firsthand and offers opportunities to students to learn, practice, and refine their English language.
While talking about the benefits of hosting international students, Leiper said that the program exposes a family to a veriety of cultures, traditions, cuisines, and celebrations that many students share with them.
Students often stay in touch with their Canadian family and hosts get to make lifelong connections all over the world, he added.
Jen Pavel, an experienced homestay mom, saw things unfold just as Leiper said. Homestay kids brought “wonderful” experiences to her life which she believes her family would not have experienced otherwise.
“The rich cultures these students brought to our lives… it’s almost like they take us to their part of the world when they share stories. It makes us realize how similar we all are in the end.”
Pavel, who has been hosting students since 2008 often connects with the families of students living with her.
“We have now friends in many parts of the world,” she said, excited.
Other homestay parents like Harry and Gaby Blust, too expressed their joy in hosting international students. Blusts have been offering international homestay services for 19 years and they love being host parents.
“It is always rewarding to hear kids say that they enjoyed their stay with us.”
The Langley family suggested parents wanting to host students, to explore the program only if they want to do it with their heart.
“Doing so will reward you the experience you will never forget,” they commented.
Pavel shared the same sentiments and suggested parents to treat the visiting kids as part of their own family.
“When they leave, you will feel a part of you has left too.”
As per Gaby, parents who have younger kids of their own feel the experience to be “extra” rewarding. Her daughter grew up with international students from the age of three to her 20s.
“Growing up with so many different cultures, she learned to be diverse and non-judgmental. Now, she embraces all cultures and respects all people because of what she grew up with.”
Some of the boys Pavel hosted, sometimes fly back to Canada to visit her. She feels proud to be able to have a bond with kids from various parts of the world.
Both the families encourage those interested in hosting students to take Langley School District’s homestay program as an opportunity and open their hearts to young newcomers.
The district is now accepting applications and those interested to host can apply online at www.studyinlangley.com.
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