CultureWorks helps Amberson High School on its way to summer camp success for 41 Chinese students

41 students enjoyed an incredible experience in Canada
41 students enjoyed an incredible experience in Canada

This year, Amberson High School in Toronto put together a summer camp itinerary for 41 Chinese students.

It was an educational match made in heaven with learning grounds based in Toronto; Shijiazhuang, the capital and largest city in North China’s Hebei province; and London, Ont.

There were other Ontario university stops along the way for the students.

The students came from the Shijiazhuang No. 42 High School, with some entering Grade 9 in September, and the remainder heading into Grade 11.

This keen group of students landed at the Toronto airport on July 28th, and will return to China on August 9th.

In those lucky 13 days, they will have crammed in a terrific amount of knowledge about the Canadian educational system, intertwined with learning a great deal about the geography and history of life north of the 49th parallel.

After a stop at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto the first morning, it was off to London for three days of learning just how the CultureWorks ESL program works, and the relationship it has with Western University, Brescia University College, and King’s University College.

An ESL program with a different teaching style

Amberson principal Desiree Dong said it was an easy decision to begin the ESL program in London.

“It was a our plan to come (to London) because Amberson does have an EAP relationship with CultureWorks, so we wanted the students to experience first hand what the university life is like, to see the campus, be in the CultureWorks EAP class, so that they can make a more informed choice about where they want to study in the future.”

Students learn all about CultureWorks
Students learn all about CultureWorks

Desiree said the students noticed the CultureWorks teaching style was quite different than they were accustomed to in China. Teaching is very “lecture style” in China, she said.

“For the classes that we have been doing here, we had the great pleasure of having Derek (Martin) and Meredith (McGregor) as our two instructors. They were really great instructors and the kids were saying it’s so interactive. It’s a lot of fun. There was a lot of team building, collaboration. There’s not a lot of that in China.”

Derek said he and Meredith were equally impressed with the students. Derek had a class with the students about to enter Grade 9; Meredith had the group about to begin Grade 11.

“Both of us had a great impression of the students. They were keen, very interested and their English was actually better than we thought it was going to be,” Derek said.

“I was surprised at everything they knew and they weren’t afraid to try to use their English, so yes, it was a very positive impression.”

Activities abound for students participating in the ESL summer camp

After the London visit and until they head back to the airport for their flight home to China, the summer camp activity continued to be non-stop, both from an educational and cultural point of view.

You didn’t need to be from the Far East to enjoy the remainder of their jam-packed journey.

Fun activities are an integral part of the summer camp experience
Fun activities are an integral part of the summer camp experience

On the school side, the 41-strong also did tours of the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, the University of Ottawa, and Carleton University.

And they did not miss out on many of Ontario’s cultural treats.

The Royal Ontario Museum, Thousand Islands, Parliament Hill, Canadian Museum of History, Niagara Falls, and the not-to-be missed Shakespeare in High Park were all on their itinerary. Romeo and Juliet was a hit for everyone.

Summer camp deemed a resounding success

Desiree said she was happy with the over-all plan.

“This is our first year of doing a full-on camp like this, so we are really excited to start with Western and CultureWorks, because we do have our partnership (with CW) and we want to show off the best first,” Desiree said.

“From (the students’) perspective, they see it as a really big university. They see it as a big umbrella under Western. Obviously, each campus or each university college has its own history. So it’s very interesting for them to see.”

Derek agreed the exercise was good for all parties, including CultureWorks.

“I think it’s a good experience for the students. I think it’s great for them to come and see the campus where, who knows, they might be studying, but just to see a campus in Canada. It’s great.”

“I’d love to see a campus in China so I could see a campus, have a tour and have them explain all these things. It would be great. So I think there is value in it for the students and it’s nice to be a part of that.”

Derek said it’s important for young students to take an early look at Canadian campuses, including CultureWorks, Western, King’s, and Brescia. He sees more of these types of events on the horizon for CultureWorks.

Students get to experience a Canadian campus environment
Students get to experience a Canadian campus environment

“And then in a couple of years if they are thinking ‘hmm, I would like to study overseas somewhere,’ we are going to be what comes to mind then. ‘Oh, I think I know where I am going to go. I think I am going to go where I visited last year or two years ago or whatever’.”

Amberson High School’s Toronto campuses are now offering the UPathway program that allows Amberson High School students a direct pathway into select universities and colleges. The UPathway program integrates the CultureWorks English language curriculum with the Amberson High School curriculum to ensure student success.

Amberson College

Amberson College Locations:

North Campus:
2 Simonston Blvd
Markham, Ontario, Canada
L3T 4L1

South Campus:
3470 Pharmacy Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M1W 2S7

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