Burritts Rapids homestay host helps support the next generation of global citizens

For Susanne Barrow, hosting international students  in her Burritts Rapids, Ontario home (like Claudia from Italy pictured above fishing for the first time!) is just another chapter in her life as a global citizen.

“I grew up overseas because of my dad’s job,” Susanne says. “Travelling from place to place, I had to be conscious and respectful of other cultures. It made me more tolerant and understanding of other peoples’ perspectives. Being a homestay host lets me build on and share that positive impact.”

Over the past four years, Susanne has hosted five Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) international high-school students from Spain, Belgium, Italy, and the Canary Islands.

“I’m their host mom. I say, ‘if you’re unsure, ask questions. If you’re angry, shout. If you’re sad, you can cry. If you’re happy, tell me about it.’ I make sure they know they talk to me about anything.”
–Susanne Barrow

She says every one of the students has impressed her in one way or another, but at the core of the student experience is a leap of faith. “Imagine yourself going somewhere new, living in a different house, and not knowing anyone, all while being expected to perform well in a new school. For some of them, it’s the first time away from home, and yet here they are ready for adventure. That’s brave.”

To help ease the culture shock and initial anxiety, Susanne says, it’s important to communicate in meaningful ways before students arrive. “I email my students as soon as I get a match from my contact at Canada Homestay Network. I send pictures of my family and home, and ask them about their families, households, hometowns, and what they do for fun.”

That communication sets the foundation for a strong, supportive relationship that provides a healthy environment for the students to learn and thrive in Canada.

Alba, from the Canary Islands, and Claudia, from Italy, at the famous Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal.

“I’m their host mom. I say, ‘if you’re unsure, ask questions. If you’re angry, shout. If you’re sad, you can cry. If you’re happy, tell me about it.’ I make sure they know they talk to me about anything.”

UCDSB welcomes students from all over the world. Caring homestay hosts – like Susanne – are needed URGENTLY for academic-year placements across the district, particularly in Brockville and Cornwall.

Hosts receive a generous allowance to offset expenses, 24/7 support, special health and safety training, and the opportunity to bring the world to their front door.

For more information about hosting international students, contact Canada Homestay Network at hostinfo@canadahomestaynetwork.ca or 1-877-441-4443 ext. 2176. To learn more and apply, visit https://whyihost.canadahomestaynetwork.ca.