A new collaboration between Ontario postsecondary institutions and several municipalities will see temporary Destination Ontario kiosks established at Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminals 1 and 3 this month to welcome and orient some of the half-million international students that are coming to study in Canada this fall.
Staff at the welcome booths will greet international students exiting Customs and Immigration at the Arrivals level with a welcome package, offer assistance with transportation and accommodation options, provide free calls home to inform family members, and other helpful services.
“I still recall the scene when I first landed at Pearson International Airport as an international students eight years ago,” stated Edna Xiaojuan Zhang, Northern College’s international operations manager. “It will be very helpful to remove the panic and pressures international students face in a brand new, unfamiliar country and culture. Having someone there at the airport to answer their questions, guide them through the customs and connect flights to their final destination will build their confidence while studying and living in our communities.”
By providing a warm welcome and guidance to new students arriving in Canada for the first time, the Destination Ontario partnership aims to attract and retain more international students in the province, and enhance the profile of Ontario’s cities as highly desirable international learning destinations in Canada.
“Many of our international students are from large, densely populated urban communities, so the fact that our campuses are a long way from Toronto, means we have to assure they know they are welcome,” stated Dr. Audrey Penner, Northern College’s vice president of academic and student success. “Travelling half way around the world to come to school with us, it seems only fair we assure they are greeted in Toronto! This partnership provides great opportunity for Northern College.”
The Destination Ontario program replaces a similar initiative provided by the City of Toronto that was curtailed in 2016. The new, sustainable business model operates as a large partnership involving 15 Ontario colleges, four universities and six municipalities, all of which contribute to the program’s $250,000 annual budget.
The kiosks will be staffed between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. seven days a week between Aug. 12 and Sept. 8, and again between late December and mid-January to welcome new international students commencing classes in the winter semester.
Representatives from various Destination Ontario partners will be on hand at Pearson Terminal 1 on Monday, Aug. 12 to talk about the welcome initiative.