July 2019
Conservative Mennonite farm families
welcome big city Spanish teens with open arms


For many readers of this newsletter, summer is a chance to take a well-deserved break. For others, it is the most hectic time of year as young international students on school break flood into Canada and the US. Whichever group you fall into, I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful summer weather. 

In this month's newsletter, we look at some unique homestay hosts - Conservative Mennonites living on southern Ontario farms. Read on to find out how they fared hosting teenage girls from big cities in Spain. 

I am also excited to announce that we will be running a workshop in Toronto called Risk Management and Strategic Planning in International Education. The strategic planning session will be run by my colleague Rob Wood, who has many years of experience in facilitating strategic planning for a wide range of organizations. Some of you have met our risk management facilitator Dave Bird before and has received outstanding feedback from attendees. We hope you can join us!

As always, please get in touch if you have any comments or questions. 
(613) 888-9560         

Homestay workshop early bird pricing ends in August

Homestay staff are invited to join us for our professional development workshops, which are filled with informative sessions, networking opportunities and sharing of ideas. Visit our website for more information and to register for these sessions. Early bird pricing ends Aug. 31 so register now! 

Risk Management and Strategic Planning
in International Education

Be sure to attend this full-day workshop to learn how to manage risk
and plan to ensure the continued success of your program. 

Homestays with no TV or radio
as Mennonites serve as hosts

Talk about culture shock. Take a group of teenage girls from big cities in Spain like Madrid and set them up in homestays with conservative Mennonite families living on farms in rural southern Ontario. No television, no radio and must wear a dress to church every Sunday. 
Avon Maitland hosts with Spanish students
For Diane Hahn, Homestay Manager with the Avon Maitland District School Board, the goal was to find suitable families for a six-week summer homestay program without any ESL classes. While she was able to recruit a few families outside the Mennonite community, many parents work during the summer and were not able to devote time during the day to the Spanish students. 

She turned to the one Mennonite family already on her roster and they helped spread the word in the tightly knit community in the area around Stratford, west of Toronto. 

While some Amish shun all technology by getting around by horse and buggy, the school board recruited families who drive farm trucks and cars and use phones. The district also requires that every host family has internet service available, although some of the Mennonites restrict use to certain times of the day. In addition, the Spanish students had to make do without TV or radio for their entire stay. 

"When we first placed the students, we thought: 'Oh, is this going to work?'" Hahn recalls about the program two years ago. 

The parents in Spain were worried too. Many did not want their children placed in such conservative families. "They expected that hosts would be white liberal Canadian couples with two children and a dog. However, our area is becoming increasingly multicultural - and the Mennonites are just one example of this."

So how did it go? "The Mennonite families were very welcoming even when the teenage girls arrived wearing shorts and halter tops," Hahn says. "It didn't take long before all of the students warmed up to it." 

The Spanish girls were kept so busy that they didn't have time to miss modern technology. The Mennonites engaged the students in church activities several days a week, in addition to Sunday services, allowing them to meet a wide group of people. The students went on hayrides, went for a dip in local swimming holes and picked fresh vegetables from the farm gardens. On Sundays, the students had to dress up for church - but even that was a cultural experience. 

All of the homestays were successful - not a single student requested a move to another family. 

The program lasted only one summer at Avon Maitland. It proved to be challenging to engage students all day without having them in class. As well, the board decided to change its focus to work with international students who are interested in coming to Canada for a semester or a full year of schooling plus homestay. 

Hahn says the experience did present some lessons learned for the school district. "If we do it again, we would need to prepare both sides better. In our host profiles, we would include a lot more information for students/parents about what to expect. Many overseas parents are not even aware that the Mennonite lifestyle exists." 

As with many homestays, it was a learning experience for all parties involved. 
Career Opportunities in International Education
Take a look at our job board to see the latest career international education opportunities across Canada. Some of these include: 

Need to fill a job opening with a top candidate? 
Advertise your position on IntEdCareers.ca 
Contact us for details!