For over twenty years, we have welcomed hundreds of International Students to the Chilliwack School District from countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Ghana, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Our program has been very intentional about developing relationships with a wide variety of countries, as we strongly believe that diversity is a cornerstone of learning.
The International Student Program extends the opportunity for school-aged children to join the students of Chilliwack School District by paying fees to cover the cost of providing their education. The stay can be for a school year, longer than a school year, or shorter than a school year, depending on objectives and personal preferences. Students in grade five or older can live with their parents, or as is usually the case, we find appropriate homestay families for the children. If a student is in grade four or younger they may enter our Program but they must live with one or both of their parents.
The school year in Chilliwack School District begins in September and concludes in June. However, we are able to accommodate alternate beginning and concluding times in most circumstances. For example, we have had a number of students whose school year finished in March come to our District in April to audit classes until the end of June. By doing so they greatly improve their English, make new friends, and familiarize themselves with their new environment before starting a full program in September.
We believe that when students come together from other parts of the world, they learn from each other and benefit from the bonds of friendship that form. In turn, we all understand and accept the richness of our diversity and we work hard to strengthen the relationships between the people of different countries.
International students are able to choose from the same extensive and varied learning opportunities that the students of Chilliwack enjoy. Students will make selections according to their personal learning goals: to improve their use of English, to learn various sciences, to explore the arts, to continue with a recreational interest, or practically whatever their hearts desire, as the opportunities are almost endless. If the intention is to achieve a British Columbia Graduation Certificate and/or to enter a post-secondary college or university in Canada, then graduation and entrance requirements must be met.
The Graduation Program is a yearly program in which students select courses of interest and value, and which meet the requirements for a B.C. Graduation Certificate (“Dogwood Diploma”) and college or university entrance. Students will enroll in a full time course program, will receive regular intensive language instruction, and will be encouraged to participate fully in all aspects of school and family life. Often this is a two or three – year program, beginning in grade 11 or grade 10, but a number of our students come to us at a much younger age and stay until graduation.
The Learning Exploration Program is a one-year program in which students select courses of interest and value but not necessarily to fulfill graduation requirements for a British Columbia Graduation Certificate and college or university entrance. The main focus beyond the content of specific subjects is the development of English language skills and to experience Canadian culture. Students will enroll in a full time course program, will receive regular intensive language instruction, and will be encouraged to participate fully in all aspects of school and family life.
Please note that your fees cover your child only for a regular school year (September – June) and he or she must leave Chilliwack between July 1 and August 25 each summer. This allows everyone to “recharge their batteries” over the summer and we highly recommend that your child goes home (although if you prefer for your child to stay in some part of Canada, or travel elsewhere, that is your prerogative) to reconnect with family, friends, and culture. Studying and living in Chilliwack is a tremendous opportunity for International Students, but the benefits of a rejuvenating summer at home, in almost all cases, do wonders for students’ mental well-being and academic performance when the new school year starts in September.
For International Students, the first few weeks can feel a little overwhelming, and it can be difficult to balance all the different aspects of school, social life, and being away from home. The International Student Program Administrator will be available at all times to assist and counsel our students and to help with any difficulties that might arise. Furthermore, Chilliwack School District also offers the services of a Homestay Coordinator to ensure that our International Students receive the best possible homestay experience.
Counseling and related forms of assistance will be provided by a professional team of Counselors in each middle school and high school to deal with the day-to-day issues, questions and concerns each student may have. As well, our high schools also have Career Advisors on staff. These specialists manage an extensive collection of college, university, and technical institute information from throughout North America, and they are available to assist every student with charting a future individual career plan. Furthermore, our high schools also have Program Site Coordinators/Teachers to provide whatever assistance our International Students may need.
Although International Students are prohibited by Canadian law from acquiring paid employment, there is nothing to prohibit them from participating in school-sponsored Work Experience. We think it is of benefit to our International Students to experience non-paid, supervised work in one or several of the many businesses in the Chilliwack area. Our school-based Work Experience Facilitators will respond to the expressed interests and desires of a student by finding a suitable work experience placement and making all the arrangements so that a student can experience “working” in a career area of-interest. Such experiences can be extremely helpful in assisting students to decide on future careers and post-secondary learning plans.