Collingwood visit gives Chinese students a taste of Canada 0
Students from the Newline-Guangzhou Oversea Chinese Foreign Language School pose with some of their host families during a farewell ceremony at Admiral Collingwood Elementary School, Friday, July 13, 2012.
COLLINGWOOD — Sarah Zhang had a hard time believing her eyes.
“I don’t think I’ve seen the sky so blue,” said the 13-year-old student of the Newline-Guangzhou Oversea Chinese Foreign Language School.
On Friday, 33 students ranging in age from 10 to 14 held a ‘farewell’ get-together at Admiral Collingwood Elementary School, where they had been taking classes for the past week and immersing themselves in Canadian culture. For their second week in Canada, the students and their teachers were to tour Ontario and Quebec before heading home.
The two-week visit was arranged by Muskoka Language International, and facilitated through the Simcoe County District School Board’s adult and continuing education program.
Muskoka Language International (MLI) designs and operates group English as Second Language programs across Canada, including educational and cultural learning activities, and special interest tours.
About 7,000 students go through MLI every year, in groups ranging from 10 to 500 students, staying for a few days, to a few months.
For the students of Newline-Guangzhou, it was the experience of coming from a city of 10 million, to a community of 20,000.
“They are used to having millions of people around them,” said program coordinator Jasmine Cuff. “They’re really impressed by the space, the beauty of the area, and the weather.”
In the mornings, the students would take English classes; in the afternoon, they’d would take part in activities and games around the community, and excursions around Ontario to historical and cultural sites.
“The whole focus is to give them a Canadian experience in a small town,” said Cuff. “They get to learn English, and be part of the community.”
“I’ve loved every minute,” said Zhang. “I even made a chicken coop with my host family.”
Newline’s principal Zhang ZhiXian said the visit allows his students to establish “deep friendships… and memories that they will remember forever.”
Newline-Guangzhou is a school with more than 1,900 students in Grades 1 through 9; the school is focused on teaching its students other languages, including English, French and German.
“When they go back (to China), they can introduce this beautiful place to everyone in China,” he said through an interpreter.
He noted the students took some time getting used to their new surroundings.
“For the first few days after they arrived, the students were shy,” he said. “Now the students are more open and easy-going.
“We wanted our students to experience the Canadian lifestyle.”