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School division’s international student program needs help with host homes

Nicholas L. M. Allen

Feb 22, 2023

A representative from the school division was present to speak with council regarding help finding host families.

Jas Schmirler, the International Coordinator for Livingstone Range School Division was at the council meeting on February 14 to discuss the LRSD International Student Program. Her job is to manage the international students that arrive in the school division. 

The international student program started in 2013, with just six students. Ten years later, they are sitting at an average of 60 international students throughout the school division. 

“Right now in the Crowsnest Pass, we have five international students. And they’re residing with families here in the community,” said Schmirler, “Part of our goal with our program is to increase enrollment of international students, but that’s contingent on having the host families we [need] within each community.”

Their goal is to have between 10 and 15 international students in each school and community. One great thing about having these international students come into the community is that they help bring a global perspective into their communities, according to Schmirler.

“Children get a chance to connect with someone from another part of the world and share ideas and their culture,” added Schmirler.

She said having global connections help to build relationships within families and the students as well. 

Her goal was to get each community she did a presentation at to help promote the program and increase the number of people opening their homes to international students.

“We’ve had a good response from lots of families wanting to host and I guess our goal is to increase international students in the community and share how it benefits the community.

Along with spending at local businesses, the schools benefit by getting additional support in terms of funding. The experience these students take back home also helps promote tourism.

“A lot of our international students go back home and tell of the positive experiences... Last summer we had 10 international students come back with their families to visit their host families and tour around in the communities,” explained Schmirler

The requirements to be a host home are a separate bedroom and a clear criminal record check. There is a home visit that occurs by the International Home State Coordinator. 

“The home state coordinator is also there to provide support for the host family and the students in whatever they require,” said Schmirler.

There are opportunities to host students for a full school year and a chance to host short-term students that come for two or three months, usually in the spring.


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