International Education Week: The positive impact of international education

As we celebrate International Education Week from November 15 – 19, 2021, we reflect on our international students and how they play an integral part in our community. The Ottawa Catholic School Board hosts international students from over 45 countries. Their contributions greatly enhance the learning experience, both inside and outside our classrooms.

The enriching experience for a host family

OCSB staff member Sue Zientek, her husband and daughter, decided to host an international student for the first time this school year. It has been a wonderful experience for Sue’s family. “What we enjoyed the most was how easily Klara became part of our family. She immediately acclimatized into our life, and she embraced our family. We have grown very fond of Klara and enjoy her sense of humour, independence, Joie de Vivre, and work ethic. She is always studying!” says Sue.

“We have watched movies together, gone shopping, and visited other cities – Niagara Falls and Kingston, and made wonderful memories with Klara,” Sue recommends hosting an international student for the rich cultural experiences and different perspectives the students bring into your family.

Adele Srutek, a teacher at St. James School, and her family were also inspired to host an international student this school year. “We have enjoyed all of it! Since day one, P has been part of the family, going on day trips, visiting Ottawa hotspots like Parliament and the Byward Market. He has taught our children new games and participated in family night. My children look up to P. He is a wonderful role model both in sports and academics. He makes the ordinary extraordinary for my children by pointing out how lucky we are in Canada. He is willing to share his culture and have conversations about differences and similarities with his country of origin.”

Adele also finds herself practicing gratitude and being more thankful following these conversations. “We are so blessed. This experience is a gift to my children and our family.”

The international student perspective

Our OCSB international students tell us they feel welcomed and supported by their peers and host families. The students say their teachers made them feel part of the school community on day one. OCSB international student Sarah Matadamas-Lopez says, “It was a little difficult to communicate when I first arrived, but my teachers and classmates helped me perfect my English. I’m enjoying friends from many countries and an impressive variety of school subjects and physical activities like tennis, softball, and snowboarding. At the OCSB, you feel the support of a whole community.”

Interested in hosting an international student?

The Ottawa Catholic School Board’s International Student Program partners with MLI Homestay to provide an amazing experience for both host families and international students. MLI Homestay is looking for enthusiastic families in Ottawa that are interested in hosting international students arriving in January 2022! They are offering an Information Session this evening, November 18th, at 7:00 pm! To join the session, visit:

MLI Homestay is focused on the safety and well-being of our students and community, therefore all students arriving in January will be required to show proof of double vaccination.

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