A group of twenty Austrian students came to Riverside for the student exchange program in beginning of September. The students got to learn more about Canadian culture and see Vancouver’s beautiful sites.

The program is a student exchange program where students from Austria come to Canada and have a home stay experience with Riverside students and their families. The program was first started in 1997 by former counselor, Mr. Brian Kenny, after he got in touch with Riverside’s sister school in Italy. Roughly 30 to 40 Riverside students applied for the trip and there was a lottery in the end to choose the students who got the opportunity to go. After Mr. Kenny retired, an email was sent out and gym teacher, Mr. Mario Luongo took up the opportunity to be the teacher sponsor and has been since.

The Austrian students get to learn more about our culture and language by staying in Canada, along with seeing our beautiful parks and other sites that are special to British Columbians over the ten days that they were here. They saw sites such as the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Vancouver Aquarium, and had a chance to ride rented bikes throughout Stanley Park. When the Austrians stay with a family, they get to shadow our Riverside students and get an inside view of life in Canada. “The best part of the program is the exchange and homestay because the students really liked getting to see all around the school,” said Luongo. The Austrian students get to follow their Riverside students and see how significantly different our school system is compared to theirs and see the different types of classes at Riverside.

Riverside students can get involved with the program and to go to Austria by signing up. Any students is welcome as long as the student gets good grades and seems capable of making a good impression on behalf of Riverside. The trip is $3,600 but it’s well worth it. “It’s a bit pricey for some of the students in our school but its great value for the dollar,” said Luongo. The trip is 16 days, taking place at the beginning on September every year and that includes everything airfare to accommodations. It can be a great experience to learn about a different culture and language for Riverside students.