It was once an unwelcome place for youth prisoners, but for 21 kids from half a world away, the old Lakeview facility is a chance at a bright future.
More accurately it is Edaus School, a place for Korean children to live and study in an English-speaking environment.
The students, who are in Grade 4,5,6 and 9, attend Campbell River schools run by School District 72 during the day and study English with on-site teachers back at Edaus in the afternoon.
Parents typically send their children to Edaus for a one-time, 10-month session from September to June to open up job opportunities for their kids.
“In South Korea they’re very keen for English because it is an export country – they sell their products to the world – and it’s very important for them to educate their kids in English so they will have a good career when they grow up,” said Chae Lee, president of Edaus School.
Lee, who is from South Korea, came to B.C. in 2001 and, realizing the benefits of an English-speaking boarding school for Korean students, opened his first school in Squamish, the Daewon Foreign Language School. A few years later he decided to expand and chose Campbell River.
“It was a nice location and a good, kind community that is welcoming to our students. I like this kind of community – not too big a city and I liked the site. It was large enough to have dormitories,” said Lee.
The school is located on a large, quiet, picturesque property overlooking Maud Lake, about 25 minutes north of Campbell River near Roberts Lake. It has three 10,000 square foot dorms, each with a TV and a living room, and 24 bedrooms – enough for each student to have their own room. Another building houses the school cafeteria (which usually serves Korean cuisine), a ping pong table and several classrooms including a computer lab. There is also a full-sized gymnasium where the kids like to play dodgeball and floor hockey; a basketball court is located just outside the gym.
On weekends Lee will arrange for the kids to take a break from school and do things like skiing, swimming or watching a movie at the theatre. The school also has a buddy program which gives students the opportunity to go to a friends house for five hours on a Sunday.
Lee said although the students are so far away from home, they’ve adapted quickly to their new surroundings.
“It’s a tough time for them during the initial two months because it’s a transition time to their new environment but after the first two months they’re fine. After that they’ve totally adjusted to here, no one is homesick after that,” said Lee, who added the kids call home nearly every day and have access to e-mail.
A visit to Edaus verifies Lee’s words. During a tutoring session students play games like Pictionary and Scategory with smiles all around. At dinnertime, chatter and laughter dominate the cafeteria.
“A lot of students want to come to Canada,” explains Lee.
Edaus makes that possible.