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International students gather at Camp Peniel in Yarmouth County for activities


YARMOUTH - It’s not just those who were born here that experience homesickness.  

Students from other countries develop strong ties to the area and its people. So much so, the Nova Scotia International Student Program (NSISP) now provides information to them on how to cope with their emotions when they return to their homeland.

Tri-County Regional School Board NSISP program manager John MacKinnon talked about the subject to about 150 international students at the end-of-the-year activity at Camp Peniel on May 31.

“I want you to start thinking about the fact that you’re going home soon,” he said. The students groaned.

“The reason I want to start talking about that is because in the past seven years we’ve noticed that a lot of the students - because we still stay connected to you guys – one of the biggest issues that’s been coming up is the difficulty integrating back into home again.”

MacKinnon says despite the apprehension that most international students feel about living in a different country, they quickly learn that it’s very comfortable here.

When they return home, however, the student’s family and friends don’t realize that it’s as hard for the student to go back as it is to leave.

“It’s called reverse culture shock,” MacKinnon said.

Host families in this region are prepared for homesick students when they arrive and plan activities to keep students busy. There are also student ambassadors to help them adjust.

Parents and friends in the students’ homelands, however, often don’t understand the loss the student is feeling when they return.

“Don’t go home to your mother and say how much you miss your host mother here in Nova Scotia,” said MacKinnon to laughter.

He encouraged them to keep themselves busy in activities when they returned home and to get lots of sleep.

“Do not spend all your time trying to keep in touch with Nova Scotia,” he said.

“When you’re missing those people, you can’t look at your best friend that you’ve been missing for the last year and say ‘Oh, I just really miss my friends in Nova Scotia.’”

The international student program started out as a school program but it was quickly recognized that an amazing by-product was how much families benefit.

“This is a great opportunity to have families learn about the world and develop a better understanding of other cultures,” said MacKinnon.

In every community throughout the tri- counties there are stories of students travelling the world, visiting “sisters and brothers” in countries that were once only dreamed of.  

Home Stay coordinators: background standing, Ruth West, Shelburne/ Lockeport. Sitting: Ruth Frizzell, Weymouth; Kim Sweeney, Yarmouth; and Tony Frizzell, Weymouth.

“Our families are amazing and most NSISP family relationships carry on after the student has returned home,” said MacKinnon.

More about the NSISP program

· 204 “long term” students attended in 2016-17

· 58 “short term” students attended in 2016-17

· 20 countries were represented

· 10 schools in TCRSB hosted students

· $3,475,480 in economic benefits to communities in the tri-counties

·  Coordinators are always looking for families interested in “bringing the world home.”

 

For more information visit the Nova Scotia International Student Program website

 

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