The international exchange program at Carihi brings young people from all over the world to Campbell River.
Living abroad as a student allows you to learn a language, experience a country’s culture from the inside and make friends with people who have had different childhoods.
Exchanges also help you become more independent, and although it can be difficult to be away from your family and friends when thrown into an unfamiliar culture, it equips you with skills you will need as an adult.
“It helps you grow up really fast because you have to learn to deal with things that you wouldn’t have to deal with at home. You have to be away from your family and friends and get along by yourself; you basically don’t know anyone here,” said Maike Hoffmann, a German exchange student.
There are three types of international exchanges: A private exchange which you organize yourself, a society exchange (the Rotary program, for example), and exchanges organized by the Campbell river school district.
Different programs offer different situations – some are semester long, some are for a whole school year, while others are for only a few months. Some students pay to live with a host family; others spend half a year in a foreign country and stay with a family with a teenager of a similar age, then return home with the teen who will live with them for the second half of the year. According to Lori Kobelak, Campbell River school district exchange coordinator, it can be difficult to branch out when English isn’t your first language.
She encourages Canadian kids get to know the international students, who offer new perspectives.