Noushin Ziafati | Telegraph-Journal
July 16, 2019
Six children. Five countries. One destination: Saint John, New Brunswick.
They arrived in Toronto on June 29 from Russia, Ukraine, Romania, France and Latvia. They were scheduled to take off for the Port City the following evening to attend a three-week Academic Camp Canada opportunity, offered for the first time in New Brunswick at Rothesay Netherwood School.
Upon arrival at the airport for their June 30 flight from Toronto to Saint John, they checked their bags in.
Just 20 minutes later, their flight was cancelled. Then, they learned they'd have to wait for two more days in Toronto to take an awkward connecting flight via Halifax to Saint John - without the luggage they brought with them from their home countries.
Sixtine Dietsch from France was left without her medication, while Daniela Krizanovska from Latvia was left without her clothing and the book she brought with her.
“We were a bit disappointed and worried about the next part of our Journey,” Dietsch recalled in a recent interview.
Krizanovska recalled being scared at first.
“It’s my first time when I was not in Europe, like alone, without parents or someone from my family,” she said.
To make matters worse, their flight to Halifax was delayed for two hours, causing them to miss their connection and leaving them stranded once more.
“We waited for two hours in the plane, like ready to go, but there were some technical problems. I don’t know what happened,” Dietsch said.
So, Dietsch, Krizanovska and the other children waited for about an hour to take two taxis from Halifax to Saint John, finally arriving around 2 a.m. on July 3.
While it was undoubtedly a bumpy and stressful arrival, there was a bright side, Dietsch said: it provided a chance for the students to bond prior to arriving for the summer camp in New Brunswick.
“It was great, because we all are from different countries and we learned different cultures from each other and we got to spend a lot of time together and got to play cards and games,” Dietsch said. “At the end, it was really funny because we had so [much] bad luck. It was absurd.”
Academic Camp Canada director Tom Cashmore said the experience was “a very big challenge,” something he had never experienced before in the eight years that he has led summer camps in the U.K. and recently in Canada. But it was “quite an amazing few days,” he said, resulting in friendships through flights.
“It seemed like the universe was sort of against us … It was crazy. But everyone did so well, the students did so well, making the best out of a bad situation,” Cashmore said.
Despite all the hurdles they faced, the children finally made it to Rothesay Netherwood School, though three days late, to a warm welcome from other Academic Camp Canada students who'd made welcome signs in their native languages.
The academic camp, which is based out of the U.K., expanded to British Columbia in 2018 and to New Brunswick this summer. It is offered to local students as well as international students from the age of 11 to 17.
The camp is based on the International Baccalaureate curriculum, preparing students for their IB diploma or advanced placement options. Children get to learn everything from math, English, French, science, history, business and more. There is also a specialist option, which allows students to take a three-week medical program, with a focus on anatomy, physiology, pathology of organ systems and other areas of study, to prepare them for applying to medical school.
Forinternational students, it allows them a chance to strengthen their English.
“It really inspires students to not only develop these academic skills … but also practicing English as a second language,” Cashmore said.
In the evenings, the students get to tour around New Brunswick, getting to visit places such as Kings Landing in Fredericton, Hopewell Rocks and St. Andrews to do whale watching.
“[New Brunswick] is an amazing place to have a camp. The Canadian outdoors is such a key sort of thing, students, even if it’s 2 a.m., they can still sort of see, wow it’s so vast and there’s so much to explore,” Cashmore said.
Rothesay Netherwood School camps director Geoffrey McCullogh said despite the fact that the Academic Camp Canada students had “freak instances” getting to the school for the camp, it has been great having students from around the world on the school campus for the first year that the three-week camp opportunity is being offered in the province.
“They were excited to [arrive] here, they were a little tired, but they were excited to be here and see the school and excited to see New Brunswick, and it’s been a fantastic experience for them and for us,” McCullogh said.