LBPSB shares holiday cheer with international students – Montreal

International students studying in Montreal may find it difficult to be away from their families at this time of year. This year, due to the pandemic, many students will be staying in the city for the holidays.

But thanks to the staff of the Lester B Pearson School Board’s International Youth Program (LBPSB), students experience the joy of the holidays just a little bit more. Earlier this week, workers held a Christmas cookie decorating session.

“We really wanted to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere and make them feel like home, away from home,” said Shalini Dowlani, manager of the LBPSB’s International Youth Program.

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Fourteen students attended the evening held at the dormitory of the John Killingbeck International Pavilion in Pointe Claire. Among them, Mahshad Taleb Zadeh, 16, from Iran, said the activity was not as easy as she thought.

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“I discovered that I am not very creative,” she said with a laugh. “But that’s good. I’m not good at art and things like that, but here I live a lot like that and I will improve myself.

Students come from all over the world and enroll in the program for at least one school year, attending secondary schools under the jurisdiction of the board. According to Dowlani, last year the dormitory was closed due to COVID.

“It’s really nice to have the students back in the building and bring the place to life,” she smiled.

She said one way to help them fit in is to involve them in aspects of Canadian culture, like decorating Christmas cookies, but there are other ways.

“For example, for Haloween, we have carved pumpkins,” Taleb Zadeh said, pointing to photos on the dormitory bulletin board of her and others with the carved gourds.

Some students, like Nano Leeteerachot, 16, from Thailand, never did some of the activities. Beyond activities, however, he had to adapt to other aspects of life in Canada.

“Like the way people are open to talking to you about anything,” he said. “I think it was pretty new to me.”

Learning to interact with people has been his biggest challenge, he said.

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“Because in Thailand most people are private and they don’t talk a lot like here,” he said.

Leeteerachot and the other students stressed that the cultural bonds and friendship they have made are the best parts of the experience.

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