International students anxious to get into Sea to Sky classrooms 

More than 200 students from around the world arrived in district last week

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Two weeks into the 2014/15 school year and students in British Columbia have yet to attend a single class.

While frustration grows among parents and students alike, the labour dispute is even more frustrating for those students who have come from abroad to study in B.C.

"The first few days I was trying to explain to them what was going on, and it's hard, you know?" said Lindsey Rosstrom, who is playing host to two international students from Spain and Austria.

"They just really want to go to school."

The two boys arrived in Canada last week.

Since then, they've been attending field trips and acculturation classes with other international students in the district.

"They meet at the Aava Hotel around nine every morning, and then they do small activities," Rosstrom said.

"But they're getting bored because it's only international kids... and they're not really working on their English, which is the whole point of them being here."

There are more than 200 international students from all over the world in the Sea to Sky district this year, said Jody Langlois, assistant superintendent for the district.

"Some of the normal orientation routines that they go through with the international department have been going on, and then throughout the year they always have interspersed cultural activities for the students, and so those are being done now," Langlois said.

Each student pays tuition of $12,000 per year to come and study in Canada.

Despite the ongoing strike situation, there have been no cancellations in the program.

"We've had some questions (from parents), the emails coming saying sort of 'Hey, is there any news?'" Langlois said.

"I think everybody is just checking to see what the status is."

Since arriving in Canada, the students have been busy adapting to their new surroundings.

"Right now they're thoroughly enjoying the ambience in and around the area... (and) they're still taking it all in," Langlois said.

"It's quite cute watching some of them still dealing with jetlag."

It has yet to be determined how the students will be kept busy should the strike continue into the fall and beyond.

"That's something we're going to have to determine as time goes on. And as with everything in this situation, we're reassessing constantly," Langlois said.

The international exchange program is beneficial to the district in many ways, said schools superintendent Lisa McCullough.

"It's generating a lot of income for our district, (and) results in our students getting a great cultural experience themselves," she said.

And even if the school year starts later than normal, McCullough said she isn't concerned about the quality of education the students will receive.

"I still believe they're getting one of the best educations in the world by being here," she said.

The BC Teachers Federation has said it would be willing to pursue binding arbitration to end the strike.

On Tuesday, the BC Public School Employers Association rejected the offer.



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