The Board of Education’s School District 41 oversees the enlightenment of young people in the City of Burnaby. Their grand mission is defined by their drive to cater to the diverse student body, many of whom hail from distant nations. To that end, the International Student Program and various Summer Programs were created. The aim of the Board of Education, ultimately, is to fully integrate Canadian and extra-Canadian students in studying regular academic subjects and participating in assorted, fun extracurricular activities. International students are strongly encouraged to learn English, but are supported by specialized programs designed to ease the transition of an international or, as is quite often the case for new arrivals in Burnaby, intercontinental relocation.
Burnaby is a true melting pot, its demographics consisting of some 39.1 percent White, 30.8 percent Chinese, 7.1 percent Indian, 5.9 percent Filipino, 1.6 percent Black, 1.5 percent Aboriginal and 0.7 percent Arab, among many other groups. 1.8 percent of the population identify as multiracial and 2.3 percent as Métis, an Aboriginal group. Considering the diverse, multicultural nature of Burnaby’s population, the School District has placed a great deal of emphasis on catering to the particular needs of each group which encompasses the entirety of the student body.
Burnaby International Support Program
Burnaby School District 41 holds many opportunities for international students, including those in secondary school. The aforementioned support program gives incoming international students an extensive, one-week orientation to the city. During these orientations, students are taken to the local tourist destinations in an effort to familiarize them with the locales and immerse them in Burnaby’s unique culture. Program staff members are multilingual and help provide cultural support to students, interpreting for them as needed.
In addition, multiple such excursions are held throughout the year. There is no need to worry over the possibility of accidents. In the event of an emergency, comprehensive medical insurance covers young people being educated in Burnaby. Parents can stay connected to their children in more ways than one, as report cards are mailed to legal guardians, even if overseas.
Each school has its own International Student Coordinator who is responsible for monitoring and supporting the academic wellbeing of students. Select schools operate a buddy program, to provide an even greater ease to the transitional process. Finally, homestay families are selected with the utmost care.
Burnaby’s schools collectively lay claim to the largest Advanced Placement (AP) program in North America, allowing students to earn their first year of university credit as early as the 12th grade. Students in Burnaby’s School District consistently exceed the Provincial graduation average and many are admitted to award-winning Canadian and American universities with scholarships.
A truly exceptional English as a Second Language Program assesses international students upon arrival in the district, as well as throughout the academic year, modifying their curricula as necessary in order to ensure they are consistently challenged but never overburdened. Not everything in life can fit in a book, of course, which is why Burnaby boasts a wide array of sports programs, including badminton, basketball, cross country, football, hockey, rugby, soccer, tennis, swimming, track and field, volleyball, wrestling and more. Students in Burnaby schools have a high extracurricular participation rate.
To highlight one particular example of Burnaby’s excellence, Cariboo Hill Secondary serves 800 students during its September to June school year. This institution offers English as a Second Language (ESL) and French Immersion, as well as B.C. Graduation, Advanced Placement and Honors programs. With advanced computer labs, home economic labs, industrial technology labs, science labs, a library, music room, outdoor track, two gymnasiums, all weather sports fields, photography and art studios and many more facilities, Cariboo Hill Secondary offers international students a friendly, close environment within which assistance from teachers and friends are readily available.
Simon Fraser University (FSU)
Burnaby’s own Simon Fraser University, nestled atop Burnaby Mountain, provides support and services such as International Orientation for any and all students in need of information about the city, their school or anything else that might be useful. SFU operates an expansive exchange program, bringing students to Burnaby from all corners of the globe in addition to sending local students to new and exciting locales.
SFU’s GPS Buddy Program is a social network serving to connect its newly-admitted, international students long before they ever set foot on Canadian soil. Each international will be paired off with a current SFU student, one who is interested in studying abroad or has done so already. To ensure the smoothest transition possible, SFU Partners will contact one another about one to two months prior to the international student’s arrival. Various fun activities are organized by university staff and volunteers in an effort to bring exchange students together.