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New class of students from China welcomed to Green Path

GREEN PATH: Students from China were welcomed to the Scarborough campus at a lunch on June 2. Back row (l to r): Alan Wu of Tianjin; Mickey Yongzhi of Beijing; Bosen Lu of Tianjin; Front row (l to r): Catherine Liang of Nanjing; Cindy Yao of Shanghai; He Yi of Chongqing; and Rich Liu of Shenzhen. (Photo by Ken Jones.)

by Aurora Herrera

The University of Toronto Scarborough welcomed the fourth annual intake of Green Path students from China to the campus last week.

A welcome luncheon held at Bluff’s Restaurant in the Student Centre was filled with enthusiasm and hope for the new batch of students entering the intensive 12-week summer program. The Green Path program, which translates from Chinese as “the way to success”, is aimed at helping the students adjust to life in Canada and prepare for the demands of university.

At the end of August, approximately 150 students from the People’s Republic of China will graduate from this year’s cohort and begin their first year at U of T Scarborough. The new students come from six schools in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Chongqing.

In its debut year in 2005, a group of 15 students from Beijing and Suzhou made up the first class. The second year heralded 77 students from Beijing and Nanjing, and the third year welcomed 112 additions from six cities to the U of T Scarborough campus.

“The students coming out of the Green Path program are first rate,” U of T Scarborough principal Franco Vaccarino told the group at the luncheon. “It is a phenomenal model program, and one of the things that drew me to U of T Scarborough. It fits extremely well with our ideas on internationalism, and the program is particularly important because it speaks to globalization and the bridges we need to keep building.”

Don MacMillan, registrar and director of enrolment services, travels to China twice a year to forge, solidify and maintain partnerships with the schools in China. “The fact that we are in the fourth year of the program is very exciting,” said MacMillan. “It’s nice to see that it has grown again this year.”

“We meet the principals, give presentations at the schools, and talk with the parents,” he said. “We interview and  test students, and then an acceptance offer is given and they decide if they want to come to U of T Scarborough.”

Margaret Yan, U of T Scarborough recruitment officer: Asian initiatives, also travels to the schools. She is the Mandarin link to the prospective Green Path students.

In terms of the course delivery, the School of Continuing Studies runs the Academic Preparation Program for the students.

According to Lisa Morgan, program manager and lead teacher of the academic program, students need to pass the listening, reading and writing requirements with a B average.

“It is much more than an ESL course,” Morgan said. The aim is to improve the students’ overall comprehension and production. When they first arrive, we focus on academic bridging.”

Morgan says that students learn how to develop listening strategies pertaining to academic lectures. She also says that they have reading tests every week and they read with critical analysis, reviewing first year chapter readings from various disciplines. They also work in teams on issues like conflict management.

The program is unique and demanding, organizers say. The students are in class Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and are taught by a team of teachers specifically hired for the syllabus.

According to Sherry Yuan Hunter, executive manager of the English Language programs at the School of Continuing Studies, they take care of the academic part and U of T Scarborough takes care of everything else.

“When I first arrived, our group went to the supermarket for groceries and we went to the bank and opened bank accounts, and then we went to Rogers as a group and got phones,” said student Shuqin (Suzie) Li, who arrived on May 26. “They are taking care of us.”

Members of the Green Path Association, a group of approximately 200 program graduates, volunteer to help each new class to ease the transition. The volunteers lead seminars and workshops and provide other guidance to help ensure that the students are academically and socially successful.

“We make sure that the new students adapt to the environment as soon as possible,” said Chuan (Michael) Liu, president of the Green Path Association, who graduated from the Green Path Program two years ago after arriving from Beijing. “We are bridging the gap between China and Canada.”

The volunteers meet the visitors at the airport and assist them in the setup of Internet accounts and other identification. They also plan events and excursions over the summer, including basketball and football games and field trips to Niagara Falls and Wonderland. Jack Martin, director, summer Green Path program, organizes the students’ residence and living arrangements.

The principal stressed that the U of T Scarborough community will do everything possible to make the students’ living arrangements and overall experience as successful as possible.

“Although you may be thousands of miles away from home, we will go the extra mile to make sure you feel at home,” Vaccarino told the students. “We are here to help you, and it’s important to us that your student experience is something you are going to remember with a smile long after you have graduated.”

Aurora Herrera is a fourth-year student in the journalism program offered by U of T Scarborough and Centennial College. She is currently working as an intern in the office of marketing and communications.

© University of Toronto Scarborough