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REPORTING · 23rd November 2013
Walter McFarlane
Council received a group of special visitors on Monday, November 18th. Several students from around the globe who are attending Mount Elizabeth Secondary School as a part of the Shecana Exchange program were present to be welcomed to the community by Mayor Joanne Monaghan.

Monaghan explained she had learned about this program when a foreign exchange student from a small town in Germany, similar to Kitimat, moved in on her block.

Michelle Murdoch introduced the students. “Behind me I have a group of international exchange students from all over the world and their host families and their siblings,” said Murdoch. “Shecana is an international exchange school which works with reputable international schools abroad and they’ve been involved in this for 18 years and they place students in the west.”

She explained that students which come to Western Canada are placed in rural communities. They place 125 kids throughout Canada each year and there are seven in Kitimat. They will be in town for 10 months.

One by one, the students came up and introduced themselves. They come from Germany, Finland, France, Switzerland and Holland.

The host parents also introduced themselves to Council, telling them what a joy it is to host a foreign exchange student. The joys include trying new foods to joining the host parent in their hobbies like fishing.

However, there are some downsides to the program. Simon Camazzola, host parent to Tim Bishop from Germany stated Bishop’s academic activities in Canada do not apply to his academic record back home.

Murdoch explained the students are placed into homes based on their preferences, for older or younger siblings or none at all. The program matches up interests of the students with the host parents. It usually works out pretty good.

Monaghan gave the students a pin, a pen, an information package and a computer drive with information about Kitimat. She joked it would be great for economic development.

Councillor Edwin Empinado apologized for the students sitting through the previous presentation, the Monthly Policing Report. He told them not to worry about the crime statistics.

“Some wonderful things happen in our town and sometimes, we don’t even know about it. This is a very enlightening experience for us,” said Monaghan.