Organizers for southern New Brunswick's international student programs are still looking for more homestays as they look to finalize plans for as many as 30 students to come to Kings County.
Atlantic Education International is set to bring 800 international students to the province, with around 200 in the southern region, said Wendy Brooks, homestay administrator for Anglophone School District South.
"Right now we are still searching for homestays... We're still getting commits and we're two weeks out," Brooks said, saying they've been lining them up since March. "We will never have enough homes, we have so many students that want to come to Canada."
The program currently has 14 students at Sussex Regional High School, with eight in Hampton and nine in Belleisle, Brooks said. That includes participants from Germany, Taiwan, Japan, Spain, Thailand, the U.K., South Korea, Mexico and China, from grades 9 to 12 but mostly 11 and 12, she said.
Rhoda Wilson, the program's co-ordinator for SRHS, said that she usually plans a big event each month for participants, which will include whale-watching with everyone from the three programs, and kayaking in October. Other activities will include the Fundy Parkway and Snider Mountain Ranch ziplining.
Wilson said she contacts host parents to see what they are interested in, and that a community develops among everyone that participates. She said it is a chance for families to learn about other cultures, and to see one's own home through a new set of eyes. She said they had one student from Japan who is going to visit again following a trip to Toronto in August.
"It's a lovely program in Sussex," Brooks said. "I find the people in Sussex so kind and wonderful, they treat that program like family."
Brooks said the program "did really well" last year, and that the numbers were "the highest they've ever been." Wilson said there were 18 students in Sussex, with some staying from 12 weeks and others staying the full year.
"We've had students that just didn't want to go home, they just loved it here," Brooks said.
Wilson said students often connect with each other as the "first round" of friendship, and it can be harder to break into the established friendships in a small town, but some do.
"It's quite an undertaking to leave your own home and stay a year with strangers," she said.
Host families are expected to provide a private bedroom, access to the internet, three nutritious meals daily and access to a school bus route. They are also expected to ensure students can attend community events, experience New Brunswick culture and be included in everyday family life. A monthly stipend is available for expenses, and the team works to match families to students with "compatible personality type and needs."
Other than homes, Wilson asked for the community to be patient and open to interact with new students, who may not always understand everything the first time around.
"You have to take the time, and it's not always easy," she said.
More information on the program can be found at aei-inc.ca.
Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal