Learn Abroad for Ontario Students
Opportunities for Ontario students wishing to participate in a Learn Abroad international education experience have been increasing in recent years. Certainly, university and colleges students have more Learn Abroad opportunities available, but there is a growing appreciation for the value of Learn Aboard experiences in developing intercultural competency amongst younger students.
A Variety of Learn Abroad Opportunities
There is a wide variety of Learn Abroad programs and the duration of the learning experience may range from a brief visit of days or weeks to an extended period over a semester or years. Learn Abroad opportunities tend to be governed by policies and procedures within each school board, the initiative of individual students and their families, and by the level of expense involved.
Learn Abroad opportunities for Ontario students tend to be limited to the following categories:
- International Trip: A school or community organized international trip of 1-2 weeks in duration and organized by educators or travel organizations which cater specifically to students. Often these trips will involve touring a certain geographical area or country based on a theme, such as the “Canadian Battlefields of WWI” or the “Art of the Renaissance Painters.” Students would usually be accommodated in hotels on these kinds of excursions; consequently, this type of Learn Abroad experience is fairly expensive.
- Service Education: Increasingly there has been a growth in “service education” travel experiences where students work on humanitarian projects designed to assist local residents in the developing world or in areas of the world affected by natural disaster or need. These types of educational excursions may involve credits towards the OSSD or towards the 40 hours of community service requirement for graduation. For example, there are “We to Me” volunteer programs (https://www.metowe.com/volunteer-travel/school-trips/) where students travel to various international locations to contribute to sustainable development projects such as school builds and health facilities. Another similar type of “service education” Learn Abroad experience is offered by “Habitat for Humanity” programs specifically targeted for youth (http://www.habitat.org/youthprograms). This type of Learn Abroad experience is usually comparable in cost to the international trip.
- International Exchange: A school or community based student exchange where there is a reciprocal visit between countries and students are partnered with visiting students and billeted with the respective families during the international visit. Usually this type of exchange takes place within one academic year. This type of experience is usually less expensive because accommodation costs are reduced, and students have a “richer” learning experience by living with a local family.
- Extended Stay: A “Study Abroad” program sponsored by a service organization such as the Kiwanis Club, or an organization (often non-profit) which specifically arranges for students to live for an extended period ( several months to a semester to a whole academic year) and attend school overseas. Usually the visiting student from Ontario will live with a local family in the host country. Often there are reciprocal arrangements with Ontario school boards and the host country to cover academic fees. Sometimes scholarships are available for this type of Learn Abroad. This type of extended Learn Abroad experience living in a local community is a very “rich” intercultural experience.
- Summer School Credit: Credit courses offered during the summer at which students travel to another country to improve language skills or learn in a different environment. Students attending these programs tend to live in dormitory residences. The cost for these types of credit programs tends to be very expensive.
While some Ontario school boards are beginning to offer bursaries and scholarships in order to encourage and enable more students to participate in Learn Aboard experiences, in most cases there is little financial support available. Some of the student exchange organizations do offer a limited number of scholarships. In general, in order to facilitate some of these Learn Abroad experiences students are often involved in fund-raising activities.
Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) Education Abroad "Lexicon"