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Green Path program welcomes Chinese students to Canada

U of T President David Naylor visited one of the schools participating in the Green Path program during his recent visit to China. (Photo courtesy of the Experimental Middle School attached to Beijing Normal University.)

by Mary Ann Gratton

More than 100 young people from mainland China are scheduled to arrive on June 3 at the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto.

They are the newest class in the Green Path Program, now in its third year. The Green Path – translated from Chinese as “the way to success” – is a unique preparatory program that partners U of T Scarborough with elite Chinese high schools in six cities.

Top students from Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chongqing and Tianjin will be here for the summer, living in residence on the Scarborough campus and participating in an innovative 12-week program that prepares them for life as undergraduates at U of T. Once they complete the program successfully, the students go directly into undergraduate studies.

The pilot was launched in 2005 with 15 students from two schools. Last year, the campus welcomed 76 students from schools in three cities, and now it has grown to include schools in six cities. Although U of T has enjoyed strong connections with Hong Kong for many years, the Green Path program is building bridges in mainland China with schools, educators, and government officials. During his recent visit to China, University of Toronto President David Naylor visited one of the participating Green Path schools, the Experimental School Attached to Beijing Normal University.

The Green Path program has been successful in helping students to become accustomed to life in Canada. The students focus on English as a Second Language (ESL) skills as well as participating in cultural orientation. Aside from ESL and academic preparation, the program includes many social activities and field trips, including visits to tourist sites such as the Royal Ontario Museum, CN Tower, Centre Island, Niagara Falls and Canada’s Wonderland.

The summer program is taught by faculty members from U of T’s School of Continuing Studies. The students will be living in residence on the Scarborough campus for the summer. A welcoming reception will be held on June 4 for the new group that is arriving.

 “We are thrilled to be receiving another group of the best and brightest young students from China to our campus for the summer,” says Don MacMillan, Registrar and Director of Enrolment Services, who is one of the program organizers.

“This program is all about relationships, and it enables us to forge some great connections with schools in China,” MacMillan adds. “These graduates will be in high demand when they return to China, and our university will benefit tremendously from its connection with them, while they in turn enhance and enrich our campus.”

The Green Path partnership between U of T Scarborough and the Chinese schools is profiled in a one-hour video documentary showcasing the co-operative twinning relationship between Ontario and the Chinese province of Jiangsu.  The documentary has been broadcast on the Chinese television network Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation.

“I am proud and happy that I became a student through the Green Path program,” says Yao (Isla) Yue Chuan. “The three month summer program is a great memory for all of us. We received not only outstanding education but also got the chance to get to know the university and the beautiful city as well.”

A Nanjing native, Chuan said she felt far less homesick or nervous coming to Canada than she expected “I thought it would be hard leaving home, but coming over here with many other young people in the same program, and getting so much help from our teachers and the program leaders, made a big difference. Everyone who works with the program is so kind-hearted and lovely.”

During her first year, Chuan took mainly anthropology and sociology courses through the Social Sciences Department. She hopes to become a journalist. Like the others in the program, this was her first time living away from her parents, so developing cooking and life skills has also been important.

She says she feels a sense of belonging, thanks to the Green Path Program.  “When I first came I knew a few other students in the program, but since we’ve been here, many of us have become good friends,” said Chuan. “We can ask each other questions when we have trouble with something. We celebrate important Chinese festivals together as well as see each other to talk about study and even about cooking skills. I feel at home in this program. Thanks to Green Path, we don’t feel like we are that far away from home. It provides us with strong support and helps us obtain academic success.”

© University of Toronto Scarborough