The Kindness of Strangers

A local family opens their doors to international students.
Story Laura Woods
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Education First (EF), a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to breaking down barriers of language, culture and geography through international education and exchange, has been placing foreign students with North American host families for over 40 years.

Laurie Crosby, the BC Coordinator of EF’s Educational Homestay Program, says the parents who send their kids overseas “want their child to experience the world in a safe and rewarding way. Many people realize that we’re a global economy, and need to know not just the language of another country, but their culture and habits.”

Ros Hansen and Bruce Morrison welcomed four girls from Hong Kong, aged 15 and 16, into their South Surrey home last summer. Hansen recalls, “There was a lot of joy and love and laughter that happened in this house when they were here. I’m not a traveller, so it was like bringing the world to my home.”

Hansen was amazed that with all the wonders of the Lower Mainland they experienced, the thing the girls marveled at the most was a simple sunset. Living among Hong Kong highrises and smog, the girls had never seen the kind of sunset Canadians find commonplace.

On the girls’ last evening in Canada, when the moon came up, Hansen told the girls, “Tomorrow night when you’re looking at the moon, you’ll know that we’re looking at the same moon.” “No,” they responded wistfully, “We don’t see the moon.”

“The things we take for granted were the highlights of their trip,” Hansen says. “I think I’ll always remember that sunset and that moon.”