Rocky Mountain International Student Program (RMISP) is currently seeking host families for their students.
The program started right here in Kimberley back in 1986 and for 35 years, Kimberley and Selkirk Secondary have been welcoming international students, usually around 30 per year between grades 8 to 12.
RMISP does not have their full roster of students this year. They currently have 24, from 24 different countries, and they’re looking for host families for that intake of students and then looking ahead for next September as well. Some of the students are only here for first semester and are leaving at the end of January and then eight more students are scheduled to arive at the beginning of February.
There is also a need for respite families as well. If a family takes on a student and needs to go away for vacation, for example, families are needed to host those students for those periods of time.
“It’s a very worthwhile experience, we get very positive feedback from families who have hosted,” said Amy Shoup, manager of International Education at RMISP. “If they have their own children, it’s just a real learning experience for their own children to be having a host brother or sister from another country, from another culture.
“I think that’s really a learning experience on all sides. We have a lot to show the international students, but the international students also have a lot to give to their host families and to the community of Kimberley and to Selkirk as well.”
The students come here for the cultural experience and the opportunities Canada has to offer as well as to learn the English language. Some students come here to graduate high school and will live here for multiple years and many will go on to post secondary education in Canada as well.
Volunteering and community involvement are important components of the program and help the students to immerse themselves in the culture.
Shoup said that quite often host families are already involved in some way or another in the community, be it in a volunteer capacity or involvement in a group, so it’s natural for their host student to get involved in the same things they do.
Currently the renumeration for families to host a student is $800 per month and in September, 2022 that will increase to $900.
Host families are required to provide the student with their own bedroom. Students generally are either within the walk limits or ride the school bus to school, so driving to and from school each day isn’t necessarily required.
“Certainly there is some obligation,” Shoup said. “We expect host families to treat these students like their own children, so sometimes there is a ride required for sure, but I wouldn’t say that is an onerous task.”
There is an online application that potential host families are able to access at www.rmisp.ca in the Homestay section. There they will find more information and the contact info for Paula Mihalcheon, Kimberley’s Homestay coordinator.
After RMISP receives an application, the Homestay coordinator will visit them in their home and meet all members of the family. Criminal record checks are required for everyone living in the home aged 18 or over. The family is also required to come to Homestay orientation meetings before hosting a student.
Once a family has a student in their home, RMISP is always there to support them, with whatever circumstances they may need help with.
Shoup said that COVID-19 has had an impact on finding host families, but recruiting is something they need to do each year.
Furthermore, she said that the vast majority of students are fully vaccinated at this point.
“When they’re here we have had no issues with students arriving since the pandemic began, so there still is an appetite for students to travel and obviously for us to welcome the students to the area,” Shoup said.
For more information and to learn more about how this program has benefited countless students as well as our local community for 35 years, visit www.rmisp.ca