This July, Nakusp Secondary School (NSS) Grade 11 student Katira Niquidet will be representing the district as she boards a plane for Beijing, China. Niquidet was selected after a rigorous screening process vying for the chance of a lifetime: School District 10 offered to send one NSS student from Grade 11 or lower (minimum age 14 years) to Beijing’s fifth annual international student summer camp sponsored by Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE.) The camp is being held from July 14-23, 2015.
“Twelve applicants each had an interview with vice principal and Miss Myles, the principal,” Vice principal Ryoko Kobayashi said, “After narrowing it down to two, we got input from every single staff here — teachers, educational assistants, administration in a secret ballot. Everybody is very happy with the results. We’re thrilled, we feel that we made the right decision.”
Selection began with each of the four social studies teachers nominating three students. Then the students were ranked on tangibles like grades, work ethic, an essay, and a questionnaire, but also intangibles such as the personal qualities of openness to new ideas, willingness to try, being polite and respectful and also their ability to tolerate uncertainty, patience, kindness, friendliness, and approachability.
The all expenses paid opportunity includes accommodation, meals, and activities sponsored by BIEE. This year marks the first time a student from SD10 will participate thanks to the newly formed department dedicated to international students. In other districts, the student selected would then be required to come up with the additional $1700 plus spending money but due to additional funds available from the international program, which is cost recovery based, the participant will also receive coverage for domestic travel, administration fee and medical insurance.
“Our school district, specifically our superintendent, has offered to pay the additional cost for one student this year,” explained Kobayashi, “SD 10 has started up an international program and the money is coming from there.”
There are 40 other BC secondary students participating, and the group will be among more than 1000 to attend from 25 different countries. The BC Council for International Education has partnered with the BIEE to support the endeavour.
Niquidet explained, “It’s an incredible opportunity. I’ve always been interested in language and culture. It was really exciting to apply for this because it’s amazing to know that it’s possible to travel even when you don’t have a lot of financial resources. I’ve already started learning Mandarin with Oliver (an international student in our school from China.) I’m most excited to practice my language skills and improve my pronunciation and make conversation.”
Kobayashi said, “It’s a wonderful opportunity, to not only gain the knowledge and experience but to bring it back and share that with the students and the staff upon her return.” She added, “In her essay, Katira mentioned many great ideas about how to share her experience with her peers. By having an international program here in Nakusp, not only is it about bringing international students here but it’s opening doors for our local students to see and experience the world out there, and making connections. Students from all over the world might come back with some new friendships.”
“I’m hoping to prepare a presentation with photographs and language lesson for my return, focusing on cultural differences. I’m packing a camera and a journal — and sunscreen,” Niquidet added. “I’m excited for the food as well. I can’t wait, and look forward to bring my experience back so that we can all share.”
Kobayashi got philosophical about the new inroads being created for students in the district — both coming and going. She is hopeful that the international program’s presence in Nakusp “really helps to open the eyes, minds and hearts of our community.”
“This opportunity of the trip is amazing, but what’s even better is what this has done for her confidence. This age can be a tough time, and being selected for this could be a turning point in her life,” said Til Niquidet, Katira’s mother. “I am just so happy for her.”