HOST AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT
Enrich your family’s life and change the life of an international student. We invite families of St. George’s students, faculty, staff and those who graduated from St. George's to host a student from another country and embark on a life-changing learning experience.
Host families will receive these benefits:
- Peace of mind from St. George’s strong vetting process used to carefully select and match students with families
- Continual support from our staff throughout your hosting
- $1,200 per month to cover expenses
- Solutions for situations like family vacations or emergencies during which you are temporarily unable to host
- The experience of a lifetime
Here are three amazing stories our current host families have shared about their experience.
Support Helps Make Perfect Match
Marina, 14, smiles quietly as she shares a chair with Olivia, 11. They act like sisters, giggling and poking at each other, but Marina is actually an international homestay student from Zhengzhou, China, staying with Olivia’s family thanks to her mom and dad, Anna and Lorne Steinberg. “This is one of the great decisions we’ve made,” Lorne states.
“We had an interest in learning about a different culture as a family,” Anna says. “We’re teaching her about our culture, and she’s teaching us about China.” And Olivia is enjoying the experience, as well. “I think it’s really fun to have someone live with us because it’s like having a sister,” Olivia says with a smile. “I’m learning Mandarin, I tried dumplings, and I like her soup!” Olivia adds.
Lorne and Anna admit they initially felt some uncertainty of opening their home and the family to an international student but point to support they received from the school as a key element in settling their comfort level. ”The school does such a fantastic job making sure they have the right kind of student coming here; one who can adapt. They help protect the student, as well, making sure the family is a good fit. And they provide us support on an ongoing basis,” Lorne says.
The result, as Lorne puts it, “This amazingly brave girl moved to a different culture, to this crazy family, and to a new language. She has inspired us!” Anna notes another benefit they didn’t expect; “Since we have a daughter in the elementary school, having another student in high school is a great way to introduce us to the high school so we know what to expect when Olivia goes,” Anna points out.
Just hearing the giggling from the chair is enough to support what Lorne, Anna and Olivia are saying. And Marina concludes it quite well by sweetly saying, “I love this family. I think they’re very kind and nice to me.”
Even Veteran Educators Learn from Being a Host Family
Who says veteran leaders in secondary education have nothing new to learn? When Jim Officer and Nathalie Bossé, both lifetime educators, began hosting a 14-year-old student from China, there was a major shift on who was teaching and who was learning.
Think of them as just another family with a daughter, Eugénie in grade 11 at the time, and an extra bedroom in the house. Then, add Yuyang Hua in August 2014, and as Nathalie describes it, “It was a happy surprise.”
“He’s a wonderful person and this experience has been a breath of fresh air allowing us to look at life from a different angle,” Nathalie says. “These international students are very receptive to our conversations and are enthusiastic about everything we do because it means learning and growth for them,” Nathalie says.
“Plus, we had taken for granted for so long the regular activities of our life: going snowshoeing, chopping wood, walking the dogs,” Nathalie recalls. “Now, we see it through Yuyang’s eyes and appreciate each of those moments a great deal more.”
As a result, she says, “You appreciate your own life more. As you look at traits of children who aren’t yours, you appreciate the traits within your own family you hadn’t noticed for a while. As a parent, you can lose focus of how much you’ve done for your kids. Hosting an international student has allowed me to realize what we do with Eugénie. And we see more clearly all that the beautiful things we already share within our own family.”
Everybody has shared in the learning. Nathalie says that hosting Yuyang has allowed Eugénie to see how other kids process the learning experience of stepping into a new home in a new country and can adapt to that lifestyle. “I think Eugénie learned what a person her age is capable of, and perhaps realized that she and Yuyang weren’t very different after all,” Nathalie recalls.
Learning Comes From Doing is a principle at St. George’s School of Montreal. And it’s clear these educators have not only taken that to task, but taken it home!
Family Dynamic Grows From Hosting Experience
A parent would be proud of this description of their 16-year-old son: “He takes the metro, does his laundry and cleans his room, just as we agreed from the start.” Interestingly, this is Catherine Bossé’s description of the Japanese high school student she is hosting in her home, along with her two teenage boys.
“Takashi is a model child in our family. My boys are not following as fast,” she jokes.
Along with responsibility, Takashi Kahara brought his personal calmness, his curiosity and his family’s code of living. “He explained to us his family’s way of living, of eating, of conversation. It adds to the richness in exposure for our family,” she states.
Takashi speaks Chinese and Japanese, and he’s currently learning both French and English. As his new languages develop, it brings enriching conversation with the family. “It opens up your own children to learn about other people’s differences.”
Catherine’s host arrangement stretched more than a year and, as a result, her Francophone son Emmanuel, who is Takashi’s age, has taken to chatting with Takashi in English. “You see a growth and transformation in both of them,” she says. “For me it adds to the dynamic of the family,” Catherine adds.
“I’m amazed that families allow their children to have these different experiences at age 13 or 14,” Catherine admits. But it’s a testament to the screening and selection process used to ensure that the international students accepted by St. George’s are well-prepared and well-matched with St. George's families open to hosting them.