South Korean students thriving in Mission with YES Academy

YES International Academy in Mission helps Korean students improve their English while keeping up with their math curriculum. The organization also plans weekend activities for the students. /Submitted PhotoYES International Academy in Mission helps Korean students improve their English while keeping up with their math curriculum. The organization also plans weekend activities for the students. /Submitted Photo
YES Academy employs nine fixed staff and its current group (pictured) has 37 students. /Submitted PhotoYES Academy employs nine fixed staff and its current group (pictured) has 37 students. /Submitted Photo
YES International Academy in Mission helps Korean students improve their English while keeping up with their math curriculum. (Pictured: YES International Academy Principal Heung Sik Oh) /Submitted PhotoYES International Academy in Mission helps Korean students improve their English while keeping up with their math curriculum. (Pictured: YES International Academy Principal Heung Sik Oh) /Submitted Photo

Thirty-seven foreign exchange students from South Korea are making a temporary home in Mission. As part of the Young Excellence Society (YES) International Academy, students study in Canada while keeping up with their Korean school curriculum.

“YES bring scores of young students to Mission every year, which impacts the community financially, socially, and culturally. The young Korean students enrich a number of our schools with their presence and participation in Canadian education and culture,” said Mission District 75 superintendent Angus Wilson.

The language barrier proves to be the biggest challenge for students, in addition to cultural differences such as food. YES International Academy manager Jimmy Han says younger students are quicker to adapt to changes and become more independent.

“I find that younger the kids are faster to pick up the language. If they’re in a higher grade it’s more challenging. It’s amazing to see how fast younger students learn the language when they’re at a homestay,” he said.

The students stay in Mission for anywhere between six months and several years and are dispersed throughout the school district. The groups are mainly comprised of elementary school students, however, middle school and high school students participate as well.

“There’s a smaller Asian community [in Mission] so it’s actually perfect for international students to come and study English. We find it very safe for the students, and a very nice little community with a lot of opportunities,” Han said.

Between 30 and 40 homestays in Mission house each student, with some homes participating in the program for several years. Since the pandemic, the program witnessed a decline in both student recruitment and homestay families. Han and fellow manager Jun Jung encourage locals to become homestay families for any international student — not just Korean students.

“We tried to get our homestay numbers up again but with costs rising, inflation and gas prices, it’s not helping at all,” Han said. “Having a new international student can give the homestay — especially homes with kids — a great experience and an unforgettable memory.”

YES Academy has been a part of the Mission community for 20 years. The private education group was formed in March 2002 in a partnership with Mission School District 75.

The academy employs nine fixed staff, four English teachers and three math teachers. Each member of the staff speaks both Korean and English to better help the students with the language barrier. The group provides after-school learning opportunities for students to improve their English and study math that better translates to the South Korean curriculum. Han says math classes in B.C. are easier than in South Korea, with some math subjects covered much earlier in Korea.

“Some students that come here want to stay until university but most of the students go back. We don’t want them to be behind when they go home, so we provide high intensity math classes.”

They also plan activities for the students on Saturdays that have recently included curling, horseback riding, ping pong, fencing and trips to downtown Vancouver.

Seven students will graduate from YES International Academy on Dec. 15, with more arriving in the new year.


@dillon_white
dillon.white@missioncityrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

MissionSchools

Pop-up banner image