Provincial co-ordinator recruiting host families
Teenage students from France will be descending on Saskatchewan in July and August.
Approximately 60 students, ages 13-18, and all of who have studied English for about four years, will soak up a sampling of Canadian culture in the Land of Living Skies, including in the Friendly City.
“They just come to experience our culture, better their English and see how we live,” said Debbie Ackerman, Saskatchewan co-ordinator for the Nacel Student Exchange Program.
Ackerman has been involved with the program for eight years, but noted that it has been around for close to 60 years.
The first batch of students will be in the province from July 5 until Aug. 1, while the second group of students will have a chance to live in Saskatchewan communities from Aug. 1-28.
According to Ackerman, Moose Jaw has hosted a number of French students, but with only a month before the first group arrives, she said there is a need for more families to welcome students into their homes – 30 in July and 25 in August.
“What we ask from the family is there's more than one person in the family. They are to provide the child with three meals a day, or access to three meals a day,” explained Ackerman. “They don't necessarily need their own room, but they need their own bed.”
A chaperone accompanies the foreign students and Ackerman speaks with each of the students every week to keep tabs on their Canadian family experience. If issues do arise, a student will be moved into a better scenario.
“We are there 24/7 between the chaperone and I,” said Ackerman. “If things aren't working out, or there are issues, we deal with them right away. They're not left undone.”
Although the students will have an opportunity to experience our province, many of them will receive English lessons.
“There are some students that do what's called a home study,” said Ackerman. “For 10 of the days they're here, they spend an hour-and-a-half working on (English) lessons and we provide a lesson book for them.
“We don't want them speaking French. They're here to better their English.”
One of the best parts of the program is the relationships that are formed between families and the students. Ackerman told the Times-Herald that many families in Moose Jaw that have hosted the students in the past receive return visits.
“A lot of them come back on their own the next summer, or the summer after that just to be with the host family – or the Canadian kids go to visit them,” she said.
Financial assistance up to a maximum of $500 per family will be provided, but families interested in hosting the French students can contact Ackerman at 306-545-0901 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks