International students being kept busy – for now

SURREY — With the third week of no school now underway, the Surrey school district is providing an "extended orientation" period for its 850 or so international students.

According to district spokesman Doug Strachan, international students receive an orientation at the beginning of the school year consisting of activities and field trips.

While the orientation is generally for first-time international students, returning students are also choosing to take part.

"Those can involve everything from a trip to Fort Langley to see the fort and learn about Canada’s heritage to trips to Science World," explained Strachan.

"We have these activities so that a connection develops between students and there’s still a chance for them to learn English."

As for the orientation activities, Strachan said those are being run by administrators or third-party operators and do not make use of district property.

International students bring in around $4 million a year to the district, and despite the school year yet to get underway, Strachan said they’ve had around the same number of withdrawals this year compared to previous years.

"We had about 15 withdrawals and last year we had 14 at the same time of year," he said.

"Of those 15, we had four international student cancellations as a direct result of the job action, the others may have had that as a reason as well, but they didn’t express it."

Over in Delta, it’s very much the same deal. With approximately 500 international students enrolled in Delta, district communications manager Cindy Anderson said officials were keeping them busy as the strike continues.

"Seeing that there’s extra time for them to develop more of a cultural feel for where they’ve landed, that’s definitely being utilized," said Anderson, noting that many of the activities were culturally based.

"They might not know what canoeing is, so they might do that or have field-trips to locations that are Canadian-esque."

As for withdrawals, Anderson said Delta district had approximately 10 students withdraw due to the strike.

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