A month after signing a memorandum of understanding with the city of Williams Lake, the Canada Asia Economic and Culture Association (CAECA) is proposing to start an international high school in the lakecity.
CAECA president Anne Wu told the Tribune the school would be a private institution, starting out for grades 9 to 12, with the intention that students would proceed to attend colleges or universities, especially the Williams Lake campus of Thompson Rivers University.
“It’s the unique characteristics of Williams Lake that are positive,” Wu added. “The low cost of living, individualized attention, warm support and the natural beauty. We are quite confident this project in the long run will be very exciting.”
At its inaugural meeting Tuesday, city council unanimously endorsed the project, which Wu said was great considering they’d only signed the MOU a month ago.
Mayor Walt Cobb said an international school would be a great opportunity for the city.
“Even if it ends up being a private school it would help feed into our local university with exchange students and international students,” Cobb said. “I think it’s great they are willing to start a school in Williams Lake.”
With the city’s endorsement, CAECA can move to the next step which will be to meet with the provincial government and the Minister of Education to proceed with necessary licences and permits, Wu said, noting although the school would be private the association will still need to follow the provincial policies and regulations.
“Education is key to the future economy of Williams Lake,” she added. “We’ve seen the transformation that has happened in the Lower Mainland with international education.”
In the meantime, Wu said they have done some marketing in Asian schools and colleges to inform them of the potential new international school in Williams Lake.
“The population is increasing for international enrolment from Asia and we also have our own consulting firm and have been sending international students to schools in the Lower Mainland.”
CAECA has also talked with potential investors, Wu said, explaining that private school is basically self-funded and cannot ask for money from the government.
Darshan Lindsay, Thompson Rivers University director of executive communications, said TRU’s involvement with the project to date has been a brief and informal discussion with CAECA specifically to educational pathways between a future private school operation in Williams Lake and TRU.
“That has been the extent of our discussion, but we will consider further conversations, noting that any next steps about partnerships or academic programs would follow the university’s normal administrative and academic processes,” Lindsay said.
Citing statistics in Canada, the proposal from CAECA that went before council at the Tuesday’s meeting noted in recent years Canada has had approximately 500,000 international students.
Wu said she is confident in the long run it will very exciting for Williams Lake.