Every student who achieves a British Columbia High School Graduation must fulfill the “Grad Transition (GT)” requirement in their grade 12 year. This involves completion of several tasks including thirty hours of work-related experience, a log book of their physical activity schedules and successful participation in the “GT Interview”.
Recently, five Stelly’s International Students who will graduate in January impressed the “GT Interview” team consisting of school staff and community representatives with reflections on their experiences in Saanich and their plans for the future.
Reika and Yurie are from Japan while Even, Winnie and Lingbo come from China. Their time in Saanich ranges from 1.5 to 3 years. In their individual interviews, each student explained why they wanted to study abroad and how they have changed since arriving at Stelly’s.
All five described their determination to attend high school in Canada and how they persuaded their parents to let them go. They each had a vision that experiencing a different school system, living in a different culture, learning a new language, meeting new friends and facing unknown challenges would help them grow as independent individuals.
"I love it here, it is a completely different experience than back home. I am a different person now. I was so shy when I came here so this experience has helped me overcome my weakness. It was so hard to leave my family but I am proud that I came to Canada by myself and made many friends and earned my graduation. It was my idea to come here because I wanted an opportunity to be more creative. The classes were difficult at first so I have worked very hard and learned to be confident.”
“I came here by myself, I started a new life as an individual, I made friends from different countries, I have changed a lot, I am much more independent now.”
Saanich Schools are proud of the diverse opportunities they provide their students. In their interviews, each of these five International Grads spoke about a special experience at Stelly’s that will affect their future lives.
Reika joined the Leadership class and learned how to work within a team to produce events such as school dances. She learned how to communicate with people and how to research what students want. This experience will carry over into the Business courses she plans to take at University where she will pursue her interest in Marketing Strategies.
Even enrolled in the Global Perspectives Program where she concentrated on volunteer work. She is especially proud of selling seven tickets and acquiring two donations for the annual Stelly’s Global Gala Fundraising Dinner that helps support student volunteer work in developing countries. She also volunteered for 73 hours in a Community Activity Centre and 30 hours in a local Thrift Store. Through all of her experiences, Even learned that helping to improve other people’s lives is very meaningful work. This is a lesson she will remember as she enters University to study Commerce.
Yurie believes that the support network she experienced at Stelly’s will help with her training to become a Care Aid for the Elderly when she returns to Japan. When Yurie first arrived she was so homesick and wasn’t sure if she could stay. She credits her Japanese and Canadian school friends, her parents, her host family and especially Naomi, her school Advisor, for helping her get used to life at Stelly’s. She also continued her love for Volleyball by joining the school team where her skills as a setter gave her a sense of belonging and introduced her to new friends. Yurie has learned first-hand the value of a support team and will take this life experience into her career as a Care Aid.
Winnie wanted to come to Canada to explore her creativity. At Stelly’s she was able to combine her love for art classes with a strong academic schedule that will qualify her for a Design Program at a Canadian university next year. She has also turned her artistic talents into volunteer work in the community by working on a project to make wreaths from local Ivy plants that were sold to raise money for charity. After she graduates at the end of January, Winnie will apply to the “NGO” for volunteer work somewhere in the world, before she starts University in September.
Coming to Canada and attending school at Stelly’s has given Lingbo the strength to be her own person. Learning to rely on herself, overcoming the language barrier, expanding her friendship group and achieving graduation, she has grown her independence and inspired plans for the future. Participation in the Saanich International Student Program brought has introduced her to students from many different countries. Lingbo has enjoyed meeting so many new people and hopes to expand her social network even more. After graduation at the end of January, she will return to China for a short stay before traveling to Japan to learn more about a culture that she has always been interested in. By September she plans to enroll in a Canadian university to study Food Sciences and in the future hopes to apply her expertise to improving food services in her home country.
Although the Grad Transition Interviews are a mandatory part of the Graduation Program in British Columbia, they provide students with a rare opportunity to celebrate their high school accomplishments and talk about their plans for the future.
For Saanich International Grads the interviews confirm the profound effects that our Program has on their current and future lives.