Starting a new school is an intimidating experience for the average student. Now, add to that having to adapt to a new culture, customs, and a language barrier. Such was the case for 12th grade student Yijun Wu when he enrolled at CCA, but that apprehension quickly turned into confidence when God placed certain people into his life that aided in his spiritual, academic, and social growth during his time studying abroad in the USA.
Starting a new school is an intimidating experience for the average student. Having to learn a new lay of the land and figure out where to fit in socially are among a few common concerns children face during this kind of transition. Now, add to that having to adapt to a new culture, customs, and a language barrier — not the easiest of circumstances to navigate, right?
Such was the case for 12th grade student Yijun Wu (known as Leonard by his peers) when he enrolled in Calvary Christian Academy’s International Student Program in the 10th grade.
As someone who regards himself as an introvert, Wu was nervous about how he would acclimate to CCA because it was the largest school he had ever attended. But that apprehension quickly turned into confidence when God introduced certain people into his life that would end up encouraging him to grow spiritually, academically, and socially during his study abroad experience in the United States of America.
SUPPORTED SOCIALLY AND ACADEMICALLY
Wu quickly found CCA’s multicultural student body to be welcoming and friendly. On top of befriending students in his High School classes, he developed close relationships with fellow international students who were also enrolled in the school’s International Student Program
(ISP). Since 2012, more than 75 Middle and High School students have enrolled in this unique program from countries such as Colombia, Kenya, Hong Kong, Mexico, Ukraine, Haiti, South Korea, and Mainland China where Wu is from.
“This is a ministry that allows us to reach and minister to international students from around the world who love the Lord,”
“This is a ministry that allows us to reach and minister to international students from around the world who love the Lord,” said Naomi Peyton, CCA’s International Student Program Director.
Wu along with other ISP students meet regularly with Mrs. Peyton and ISP support staff to check in and celebrate both American holidays and ones that are observed overseas; these gatherings give ISP students the opportunity to experience culture and share it with others in the group. At this year’s Thanksgiving ISP celebration, Wu made an intentional effort to step outside of his comfort zone by sharing his musical talent with the group. He played John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads on the guitar and sang along to it, which was quite a treat for everyone in the room!
As a complement to these community-building opportunities, Wu has received academic support from CCA’s ISP academic coaches, tutors, and its ESOL instructor. He credits these staff members and other CCA educators for helping him grow in his work ethic, independence, and self-discipline — something he admitted struggling with prior to studying at CCA. Developing these character traits has aided in his academic success, preparing him for college and beyond.
DISCIPLED BY MANYOne faculty member in particular who has poured into Wu’s life not just academically but spiritually as well is Bible teacher Pastor Bill Schott.
“Pastor Schott helped me gain so much biblical knowledge and taught me how to defend my Christian faith. I think he is the Bible teacher who has impacted me the most,” Wu said.
There have even been people behind the scenes investing in Wu’s life, making his CCA experience special and memorable — one such person is Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale staff member Diana Parker. Just this week, Wu discovered that she was the “Senior Prayer Partner” who had been assigned to him; each senior is assigned one, per CCA tradition. Parker volunteered and committed to praying for Wu throughout the school year as well as delivering gifts and notes of encouragement… all anonymously!
"Our loving homestay families point our international students toward God’s best for their lives by providing the best possible home experience..."
Outside of school, Wu has been nurtured by his loving homestay family — CCA High School science teacher Mrs. Kim Bates, her husband Erik, and her two sons. Mrs. Bates' son Nick happens to also be a member of CCA’s Class of 2021 and gets to experience this eventful milestone year with his homestay brother. When Wu shared his testimony at the CCA Auction this year, he expressed how Nick was his inspiration to do good in school and work hard.
“The Bates family is the most phenomenal family! They have a professional music room with lots of guitars and a baby grand piano,” said Wu. “I haven’t traveled a lot within the United States, but they gave me the experience of going to Indiana. It was very snowy, different from Florida, and the people were so nice.”
All of CCA’s homestay families are either school employees, Calvary Chapel
congregants or staff members, or Christians from other local churches. They are interviewed, background checked, and their homes are visited to ensure they are ready to host students. Each student is provided with room and board, meals, and transportation to and from school, church, and extracurricular activities.
“Our loving homestay families point our international students toward God’s best for their lives by providing the best possible home experience, caring for their needs as parents would, and authentically living out the love of Jesus in their home,” said Mrs. Peyton. “These incredible families are one of the main reasons why students love CCA’s ISP program!”
HEADED TOWARD A NEW SEASON
As he gets ready to graduate next month, Wu looks forward to what God has in store for his future. He plans on attending Florida International University in Miami to study International Business and hopes to use the spiritual, academic, and social experiences he gained during his time at CCA to lead others one step closer to Jesus Christ.
Congratulations, Leonard! We are so proud of you and could not be more thankful that the Lord led you and your family to Calvary Christian Academy. You will be missed and always a part of our CCA Eagles family.
YOUR SPARE BEDROOM CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!You can be a part of the work God is doing globally by hosting a CCA international student (ages 13-18)! Christian homestay families not only receive $1,000 a month to aid with living expenses, but also receive ample training and support from CCA’s ISP team every step of the way.
If this opportunity interests you, you’re invited to learn more by emailing Naomi Peyton at NaomiP@CCAEagles.org.