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Posted: May 12, 2019

International scholarship students in the East Kootenay

The Gadd family meets their new host student, Genis Rodriguez, at the Cranbrook Airport last August.  Back row left to right:  Genis and host mother, Claire Gadd.  Front left to right:  Evie, Milly, and Asia Gadd.  Missing: Philip Gadd, host father.

Each year, the Rocky Mountain International Student Program is a popular destination for international scholarship students from Spain.

In this school year, six of these outstanding high school students are enjoying the best time of their life, living and studying in Kimberley, Cranbrook, Fernie, Invermere, Golden and Revelstoke.

Back in 2017, each of these students pursued their dream of studying abroad by applying for one of 250 all-expenses-paid, ‘Study in Canada’ scholarships offered annually by the Amancio Ortega Foundation. Amancio Ortega is one of the wealthiest people in the world and founder of the world’s largest fashion clothing retailer, Zara.

Imagine the excitement of these students when, after a rigorous selection process, they were selected out of 20,000 other applicants!

“It was a dream come true,” smiles Genis Rodriguez studying at Fernie Secondary School, “because my parents own a cafeteria back home and could never have afforded to send me to Canada on their own.”

Donna Newel whose Kimberley family is hosting Samuel Diaz, their second Spanish scholarship host student, is impressed by the vetting process back in Spain.

“It seems that all these scholarship kids have such a broad range of skills and abilities and strong people skills. Our Samuel, for example, is very kind-hearted and full of compassion for others,” says Donna.

When asked what the best thing is about their time in Canada, all students reply that they enjoy skiing and getting involved with sports or music programs at school, but in the end, they all agree that it’s people that make their stay so special.

Samuel Diaz, studying at Selkirk Secondary School in Kimberley, pets an Alaskan Husky, on a dog sledding tour near Lake Louise.

“The most amazing thing,” says Jesus Pino from Madrid, “is that people in Cranbrook always seem to say ‘hi’ when they pass you by on the street! Everyone is so warm and friendly! And even the teachers are helpful and fun to talk to!”

Without question the Canadian people who make the most impact on the students’ lives are their host families.

Genís has fit right in with the Gadd family in Fernie. “My host family welcomed me as a new family member from the very beginning and I know I will always have a family over the ocean no matter what!”

And the feeling is mutual! “Hosting Genís has been a fabulous experience for our entire family!” beams host mother, Claire. “He’s so respectful and caring and our three girls love having an older brother around, if only for a year!”

Families interested in hosting international students in their own home are invited to contact Ulli Murtagh, Program Coordinator with the Rocky Mountain International Student Program, at (250) 432-5904 or [email protected].

Jesus Pino, studying at Mount Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook, tries his hand at curling.

Rocky Mountain International Student Program,

School District No. 6 (Rocky Mountain)


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