As the school year draws to a close some of the students at Golden Secondary School are preparing for a journey that will take them back to their homes in countries all over the world. International students have become a fixture at the school in recent years as local families open their doors to take in students who come to Golden as part of an international program.
Three of the students who came to Golden this year recently sat down to talk about the year they have had in Golden and what the experience has meant to them. Sarlota Salacova came to the area from the Czech Republic.
“It has been really good. I would have to say it has been the best year of my life so far,” Salacova said. “It has been really fun but has gone by so fast. It seems like it was only October recently and now it is June.”
Salacova said she has been torn between being excited to go home while also wanting to stay in Golden.
“I enjoyed the school and friends. People here are really friendly and I have made many friends in a short period of time. Skiing was fun,” Salacova said.
Going to Vancouver with her host family was also one of the great memories Salacova will be taking home with her.
Sayaka Nozaki is from Japan and for her the experience has left her with a desire to return to Canada someday. Although she has had many great experiences during her time in Golden she did explain Christmas was one of her favourite memories she will take home.
“I am having fun. Especially around Christmas, in Japan it is not such a big event. It was so good,” Nozaki said.
Fernanda Bernal of Mexico took advantage of the year to meet many new friends and learn some new skills.
“Snowboarding is very cool. I was wake boarding before but that was not like snowboarding,” Bernal said. “The guys here are super friendly and it has been fun. It will be tough missing my friends and host family.”
According to the co-ordinator for the program, Monica De, about 75 per cent of our host families are returning for next year which is important for a program which has seen a 40 per cent growth over the last four years. Some of the reasons why host families decide to participate in the program included an interest to get to know someone from another culture and share their enthusiasm for the community of Golden and the fact that people who have been involved with the program in the past have loved the experience.
While in Canada the group had many different trips which ranged from dog sledding, horseback riding and a three day trip to Edmonton.
“I think it is the best experience you can do,” Salacova said.
As for their impending trip home Bernal said, “If I could bring all the people from here home with me it would be easier to go home. “