A handful of international students are looking for a spot to stay in the Sarnia area during the upcoming school year.
The Lambton Kent District School Board needs around 20 homestay families to host incoming students during their time in Canada.
Superintendent of Education & International Education Helen Lane said they are always amazed by the young people that come to the district.
"These are very accomplished students. They come to us with academic accomplishments but also extracurriculars. We have students that attend who, for instance, have participated in their national operas or they've been on a national hockey team. Some of our students are accomplished musicians and often they speak more than just a couple of languages."
LKDSB has been welcoming international students from around two dozen countries for the past 10 or so years -- around 140 are registered for this September.
Lane said for Canadian families, it's an opportunity to bring in a different perspective than maybe what they're used to.
"Sometimes families have children that are interested in broadening their own opportunities and experiences by meeting a friend from across the globe. Families that'd be interested in learning more about different countries, having more of a global perspective and also building some interpersonal skills with their children."
Lane said they generally have a lot of students come from Europe including the Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, and Belgium, South American countries like Chile, and Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Lane added that LKDSB can also send local students abroad.
"In the past we have had exchanges to Korea, Taiwan, France and Sweden. We also have several reciprocal exchanges in place with agencies like ISE Ontario, the Rotary and YES Canada."
Lane said the board, in partnership with Canada Homestay Network, usually works about a year ahead. She said getting a student setup to learn abroad in September of 2023 is certainly possible.
Lane said most of the incoming students come for the full school year, others come for five months and some for two. The majority of students are in high school and some are in Grades 7 and 8.
"Students are really interested in coming to stay in Canada so they can learn more about Canadian culture, they can practice their English skills and they can really make connections that last a lifetime," she said. "We're hoping by bringing students from around the world into our classrooms that our Canadian students are able to view things a little differently from a more global perspective and gain a better understanding of what's happening in the world."
Lane said they didn't have as many students attending as pre-pandemic but the numbers are increasing once again.
LKDSB is also still looking for around a dozen homestay families in the Chatham area to take part in the program.