Nova Scotia

International English school officially opens in Glace Bay

An English language school is celebrating its official opening in Glace Bay on Monday.

Students come from around the world

Qiang Zhang (left) and Chuyan Yue prepare for the opening of the International Centre for English Academic Preparation. (Submitted)

An English language school is celebrating its official opening in Glace Bay on Monday.

The former coal-mining town is playing host to hundreds of foreign students from around the world.

The International Centre for English Academic Preparation has 250 students from countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Brazil.

They're learning basic English before they go on to study at Cape Breton University in Sydney.

ICEAP has set up a campus in the former Morrison Junior High School in Glace Bay, tucked away in a residential neighbourhood, not far from a street filled with old company houses.

Many of the students stay with host families in the community or rent apartments. They pay rent, buy groceries, clothing and even cars.

Jennifer Bussey, academic chair at the centre, said it's an adjustment for the students.

"Culture shock is probably a very mild way to put it. They come from very large cities where there are thousands to millions of people, and they're coming to a little old place," Bussey said.

"But what they like is the little old place. They like that all of a sudden, they're safe. They feel like they're family, they are adopted into the community. People here know their names, and they love the atmosphere."

Kerrianne MacKenzie, co-ordinator of human resources at the institute, agreed it doesn't take long for the students to feel at home. Nor does it take long for the students to pick up the local dialect.

"There was a boy from Saudi Arabia walking down the hall, he was calling to his friend ahead and he said, 'Hey, b'y, wait up,'" she said.

"People speak to them, people say hi, people are more than willing to take them into their social networks."

Kelex, a student from China, has discovered one of the advantages of small town life.

"Take our house, as an example. We never, ever lock our doors. Don't tell anybody," he said with a laugh.

 Bussey said the students are generating millions of dollars for the local economy, through their living and tuition expenses.