Dozens of international high school students are at summer camp at Mount Allison University to help pass the time in between school years. It's time many would have spent at home if COVID restrictions hadn't complicated international travel.
The New Brunswick International Student Program brings kids between the ages of 11 and 18 to the province to attend public school, while living with a local host family.
More than half the students enrolled in the program opted to stay in the country over the summer, rather than deal with long quarantines and complicated travel issues.
Gone far longer than expected
16-year-old Thanh 'Tyler' Pham has been away from his friends and family in Vietnam for two years. Currently a student in Moncton, Pham said he planned to go home during the summer of 2020. He went as far as buying a plane ticket.
"Then the pandemic hit, boom, the ticket is gone. It got cancelled."
Favourite thing about Sackville camp is a trip to Halifax
Melody Cui, is a 17–year–old Grade 12 student from China, living in Saint John for the last six months.
Asked if she is homesick, she said "I've just been here 6 months and I really like Canada so, not really, sorry mom!"
Come for the schooling, stay for the scenery
Harumi Umemura has been going to school in Miramichi since January. The 18-year-old from Japan will go back home at the end of the year. He said he decided to stay in the province over the summer because he likes it in New Brunswick.
"My city was big, so I really want to live here, like surrounded by nature. My host's house is surrounded by woods and I see many animals with my host family."
17-year-old Cara Kim from South Korea is going into Grade 12 at Rothesay High School in September. She's been attending schools in Canada since ninth grade, and is enjoying the camp in Sackville.
She said the activities keep the group of 67 kids busy, but she still has time to make friends and study for her online courses.
Long term plans to stay
Benny Ngan, of Hong Kong hopes to graduate from high school in Dalhousie, then go to university in Nova Scotia. But in the meantime, the 18 year-old is happy living in New Brunswick's most northern community.
"My house is close to a mountain so I can go snow boarding in the winter."