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Unique program gives Chinese students a path to success at university

GREEN PATH: Some students from the Green Path graduating class are pictured here. They recently completed their program and are now ready for university. Back row, (l to r) are: Tim Cai of Beijing, Suzie Li of Shenzhen, and Richard Liu of Nanjing. Front row, (l to r) are: Erin Feng of Shanghai, Charles Liu of Chongqing, and Elina Shen of Tianjin. (Photo by Ken Jones.)

by Mary Ann Gratton

Students from the People’s Republic of China celebrated their graduation on August 22 from a unique summer program at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

The 147 students have completed the Green Path program (绿色通道), a U of T Scarborough initiative and partnership with Chinese high schools in six mainland cities: Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chongqing and Tianjin. These high school graduates arrived in Canada in June to take part in the innovative 12-week preparatory program.

They received their diplomas at a special graduation ceremony and luncheon under hot, sunny skies at Miller Lash House on campus. Green Path – which translates from Chinese as “the way to success” – enables students with top marks to participate in an academic and ESL program that prepares them for school and campus life at the University of Toronto.

The students live in residence, and their program includes social activities and field trips to popular tourist sites such as Niagara Falls. Green Path is taught by faculty members from the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies’ English Language program. The summer period gives them a solid level of orientation and preparatory time before the fall semester begins. Once the students have successfully completed the Green Path program, they go directly into first-year undergraduate studies.

“The Green Path program was very helpful, not just for academics but also in helping us to make new friends,” said Elina (Peng) Shen, 18, from Tianjin, who will major in biological sciences in September. “Together we conquered our homesickness and helped each other learn many things. The class of 2008 is like one big family and we’re always there for each other.”

“When I first came here, I didn’t know how to cook,” said Tim (Taotao) Cai, 18, of Beijing, who plans to take co-op management this fall. “Back home in China I was focused on my studies. Now I’ve learned how to take care of myself better, to do housework and cook, so I know I won’t starve in Canada.”

Senior University of Toronto officials were on hand at the ceremony, along with organizers of the Green Path program. They included: Professor Franco Vaccarino, Principal of U of T Scarborough; Don MacMillan, Green Path Program Coordinator; Lisa Morgan, Program Manager and Lead Teacher; Jack Martin, Director, Retail and Conference Services; and Margaret Yan, Recruitment Officer (Asian Initiatives.)

Officials from the People’s Republic of China were also at the event, including Madame Taoying Zhi, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China, and Education Consuls Madame Linyi Zhang, Mr. Xiaochuang Wu and Madame Baojun Zhang. The event also featured music performed by some of the Green Path students.

"Some of the best and brightest students from the People's Republic of China have come to our campus through this unique program, which has earned an impeccable reputation for excellence and innovation,” said Vaccarino. “I congratulate all of the students who have completed this year's program and wish them well as they begin their university careers here."

Green Path Program Coordinator Don MacMillan, who is Registrar and Director of Enrolment Services at U of T Scarborough, said he was pleased to celebrate the graduation of the fourth annual cohort in the Green Path program, which started with an intake of just 15 students in 2005.

“We are once again delighted to share with our students in the success of this program,” MacMillan said. “We have forged some great connections with schools in China, and these young people will be in high demand once they graduate.”


© University of Toronto Scarborough