Celebrating 20 Years of Welcoming International Students to Nova Scotia

    Homestay coordinator for the Nova Scotia International Student Program in the SAERC catchment, Donelda Rooyakkers, hosted a reception for the graduating international students along with family members and host families at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.

    PORT HAWKESBURY: As the 2017-2018 academic year comes to a close, the Nova Scotia International Student Program (NSISP) reflects proudly on their growth and success over the past 20 years of welcoming international students to Nova Scotia.

    During this time, the NSISP has hosted over 15,000 international students in Nova Scotia. It is estimated each year the average international student contributes $25,800 to the local economy. In 2017-2018 alone the economic impact was more than $28 million dollars to the province.

    In addition, the NSISP graduating students continue to contribute to the province by staying for post-secondary education. A recent poll of 2017-2018 graduates showed 65 have committed to furthering their studies in Nova Scotia in September 2018.

    “Coming to Nova Scotia in 2012 to go to high school changed my life forever. I finished high school in Cape Breton and continued my post-secondary at Saint Mary’s University and will soon graduate with my Bachelor of Commerce Degree. I plan on staying in my new home to pursue a career and apply for permanent residency. I’m so happy that I made the decision seven years ago to come to Nova Scotia, a place that I now call home,” says Cem Monus, an international student from Turkey.

    “The first few years of the NSISP were about discovering how to market Nova Scotia as a study destination for secondary students around the world,” says NSISP Executive Director, Paul Millman. “As Nova Scotians, we know we are a unique province with lots of opportunity for students. We just had to find a way to get that message out to the world.”

    And get that message out, they did. Within five years of hosting its first student the NSISP grew to over 200 students from 11 different countries. By the time the NSISP hit its 10th Anniversary that number had more than tripled with students coming from over 15 countries and now, in 2017-2018, Nova Scotia hosted over 1400 international students from over 35 countries.

    The NSISP is unique in Canada being the only public school program that works together as a province. All seven English regional centers for education welcome international students to their schools. As one of the largest programs in the country, it is also one of the most diverse. The NSISP is dedicated to creating global citizens by promoting the growth of intercultural understanding and increased international educational opportunities for Nova Scotian students and students from around the world.

    At the backbone of the NSISP is the homestay program. Across the province there are over 45 homestay coordinators who help the international students and over 850 families who host the international students.

    “Our families are an integral part of the success of our program. They take the students into their home and welcome them as their own child. Without the host families our program would not be one of the top programs in Canada,” says Millman.

    As a thank you to host families, the NSISP ran a video/photo-essay contest. Families were given the opportunity to win a trip for two anywhere in the world to visit a former international student and two runners-up will have a former student return to Nova Scotia for a visit.

    “It’s our 20th Anniversary and we wanted to celebrate not only our program but our host families. They are invaluable to the NSISP,” expresses Millman.

    As for the future of the NSISP Millman and his team are optimistic.

    “Over the past 20 years we have seen our alumni get married, have families, return to Nova Scotia for post-secondary and work, and so much more. The opportunities are endless. We are looking forward to the future of the NSISP and continuing to welcome international students to Nova Scotia.”