Ontario is home to over 100,000 international students, and it's no surprise that most of them are in Toronto. In fact, 25% of Canada's entire international student population is in Toronto. In an effort to welcome these students and ensure that their experience living in Ontario is positive and memorable, the City of Toronto runs three programs to support them:
- The International Students Airport Welcome Program
- The International Students Festival
- The At-Home-In-Toronto Initiative
Airport Welcome Program
The City of Toronto and Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) are partnered with various post-secondary institutions across Ontario as well as the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, to offer students arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport a place to meet friendly faces and get the information they need to adjust to life in Toronto
The welcome booths are open from August 15th to September 8th, 2014, and are located in the international arrivals areas of Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 of Toronto Pearson International Airport. Volunteers are at the booths from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to provide support, guidance, and informational services to incoming international students. Students are given welcome packages, information on how to get to their campus destinations, and are able to call home upon arrival for free. The aim of the Airport Welcome Program is to assist institutions in making international students feel welcomed and comfortable while highlighting Toronto, Ontario and Canada as attractive international destinations.
In 2013, more than 4,000 students from 116 countries visited the welcome booths, and this year the City of Toronto's staff and volunteers were there again to welcome new international students to Canada.
International Students Festival
The International Students Festival is a free event celebrating the cultural diversity and outstanding achievements of Ontario's international student community. It features live music and cultural performances, a diversity show by international student groups from schools partnered with the City of Toronto and the GTAA, and is host to a variety of informational and activity booths students can actively participate in.
The International Students Festival is also host to foreign dignitaries, post-secondary representatives, and several civic and corporate leaders with whom students can network, expanding opportunities available to them in the city while gathering information on what Toronto and Ontario have to offer both professionally and for entertainment.
The festival's aim is to promote and show appreciation for the diverse cultural backgrounds of Ontario's international student community. Part of the festival also includes an Excellence Awards ceremony —international students nominated by their post-secondary institutions in 7 different categories and winners are presented with their Excellence Awards at the festival. All attendees also have an opportunity to win prizes when they submit an entry on-site to participate in a prize draw.
The festival takes place on Saturday, September 27th, 2014, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at David Pecaut Square in Toronto.
A relatively new program by the City of Toronto, this initiative aims to connect international students to local communities and support agencies. Engagement with these diverse communities and signature Toronto attractions and activities offers both domestic and international students the chance to explore and experience Toronto first-hand, especially if they aren't living in the Toronto region.
The At-Home-In-Toronto Initiative also provides students with information related to off-campus student housing and housing assistance resources, equipping them with the information they need to ensure a smooth and comfortable transition to living in Toronto.
Senior Advisor, Education Services Sector
Learn more about the 2014 International Student Festival on Facebook and let us know if you'll be there at https://www.facebook.com/events/276446405881321/