A Canadian welcome to international students

Vernon church is welcoming students from around the world and introducing them to Canadian culture

  • Mar. 12, 2017 7:00 a.m.

Cara Brady/Morning Star Staff

Pat Springborn put two good thoughts together and came up with an exciting new program for her church.

“One of my honey customers came to church with me and told me she thought our church was open and friendly. I had heard about International Student Ministries in Kelowna and I thought that would be a good outreach for us,” said Springborn, a member of the new program committee at Community Baptist Church.

The church is already working in the community with programs to provide meals to Dorothy Alexander Learning Centre and runs an after-school care program, Apple Tree Day Care, at the church. The church also makes its kitchen available for cooking classes run through the Vernon Recreation Centre.

“We believe in being involved in the community,” said Pastor Karl Popke.

International Student Ministries Canada is active in Kelowna, and people from Vernon attended the Lantern Festival dinner there to learn more.

“We saw that people were having a good time and were telling us it was wonderful so we wanted to do something here,” said Springborn. “The students and their host families were interacting with community members and getting to know Canadians.”

There were students from seven countries, including Korea, China, Japan and Brazil, at the event which was a chance for them to meet each other as well.

“The students come with varying degrees of English language skills and they want to practise English. It’s also an opportunity for them to ask practical questions about Canadian life and culture, maybe something as simple as how to take the bus,” said Popke. “We want to ask the students what they want to do and how we can help them. We also invite the host families to get involved. And it has been suggested that high school students who need volunteer hours to graduate could help us here to get those hours.”

Members of the congregation will be using their skills and interests to help the students enjoy their time in Canada. For example, someone with an interest in a sport or hobby might share that with the students.

“We want to be part of their lives and we want them to be part of our lives,” said Springborn.

The first project for international students and host families at Community Baptist Church was a dinner Feb. 11.

There will be a pizza and games night Friday at 6 p.m., which is open to all international students and their families. Please call 250-542-4028 to confirm attendance.

Other activities are already being planned, including a night where the students will supply recipes from their countries, the committee will supply the ingredients and everyone will cook and eat together.

For more information about International Student Ministries of Canada activities at Community Baptist Church, call 250-542-4028.

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