Students safe in school district’s international program

Officials offer up-to-date info on housing for Koreans

There are no safety concerns with the number of Korean students living in two single family homes in the area, said local superintendent of schools, Jim Ansell.

“(Their accommodations are) very comfortable and safe,” he said.

The NEWS recently published an article stating 22 people — mostly Korean students and some staff —were living in a four-bedroom house in Nanoose Bay, based on information attained from Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) staff and from residents at a Nanoose Bay Fire Protection Society’s annual general meeting. Residents at that meeting questioned the safety of the children living in the home.

Ansell told The NEWS this week there are currently 11 female students living in the Nanoose Bay house, as part of the International Student Program (ISP).  The house is 4,500 sq. ft. with a well-appointed kitchen, eating area for 12, a study with books and crafts, and large windows. The students are sharing rooms based on their preferences, he said.

“Nobody is being sent to dorms,” he said, “the students choose to bunk together.” Ansell added that the parents are well aware of the living situation and have requested the students share rooms. In addition students communicate with parents via Skype often, he added.

Ansell said sleeping in close quarters is “a cultural thing,” something they choose to do in their own country. The house was described by the district 69 home stay coordinator as being “huge, clean and warm,” Ansell said.

A 4,000 sq. ft. house in Bowser houses 8 male Korean students, and similarly the house has a library area, counseling area and computers available for use. There is also a large heated games room for ping pong and other activities. Ansell said there is at least one empty room as students elect to share rooms. At both homes there is a cook and counsellor.

Building, Bylaw and Emergency Planning Services with the RDN, Tom Armet, said based on an inspection Oct. 19, the building code issues relating to windows and proper egress had been corrected and no further concerns were apparent.

Trustees of district 69 (Qualicum) issued a press release Wednesday stating a recent review of the ISP initiated by the board yielded some thoughtful and candid critiques that are being taken seriously and are being thoroughly worked through. But the majority of the feedback from parents and students during the review was very positive, it states. The document also briefly touches on where the students are housed.

“We share the perspective that ideally students would be housed in the community individually or in small enough aggregates that the international students get a taste of our culture and lifestyle and have the opportunity to introduce us to bit of their world in their home communities,” the document states. A complete review will look at all angles of the program and the trustees are asking for comments and ideas from residents via upcoming surveys and their public web forum. The press release also invites interested community members to consider hosting a foreign student. For more information people can call 250-248-4241 and check the school districts website


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