When Samuel Loewen left his home in China, to fly alone across the ocean to Canada, he wasn’t all that nervous. He was looking forward to leaving behind his larger school for a more relaxed atmosphere and smaller community at RJC. He wasn’t nervous that is until the moment he arrived at his new school. “I wasn’t nervous the whole time until I was like 20 metres from the front door,” he says. “And then I’m like, ‘Oh, I can feel my heartbeat. Oh, I’m so nervous.’”
But soon after his arrival he was able to feel a sense of home. “When I see RJC… it’s like going home. But at my school before, every time I see the front door of it, what comes to me is the pressure and the fear.”
Samuel is part of a long tradition of students from China and Hong Kong coming to RJC. His father Ronald Loewen (1974) was originally from Winnipeg and later moved to China where Samuel was born and grew up. And Samuel’s RJC roommate, Allen Cheng, is also the son of an RJC alumnae from Hong Kong, Midco Ling who attended the school for one year in 1992.
She too felt nervous when flying to Canada 30 years ago, arriving in a new country for the first time and speaking limited English. But once she got to the school she discovered she needn’t have worried. “All the deans and student councils took very good care of me in the dorm. Teachers and students were being very considerate and patient. I still remember how good all my host family members were at taking care of me,” she says. “With all these memories it was easy for me to consolidate my planning for Allen to attend RJC last year.”
While Midco only attended RJC for Grade 10, she had many highlights from her time there, like a canoeing and backpacking trip where she saw the northern lights for the first time, or learning literature like Shakespeare, or having a pyjama party and making friends in the dorm. With those positive memories in mind, she chose to send Allen to RJC because of the school’s Christan background, the full time school and dorm support and the strong community. This is Allen’s second year at RJC and he’s found the opportunities at RJC have far exceeded his expectations. He knew he would make friends in the dorm, but had no idea about all the outings the school would plan outside of the classroom. He’s enjoyed the retreats at Shekinah Retreat Centre as well as the trips to B.C. and Winnipeg. He was also surprised by the more personal approach teachers at RJC took to his education. “When I first came to RJC last year, David and Ryan gave me a very good first impression, they are really making a relationship with you,” he says. “They are not just that teacher and student relationship.”
The more relational approach RJC takes to education is something both Samuel and Allen have noticed compared to their schools back home. The school Samuel attended before had 6,000 students, and many teachers, but he prefers the smaller community at RJC. “We have less students in the class so the teachers can pay attention to more and also the teachers’ attitude is different,” he says.
A less rigid atmosphere is something that Samuel’s dad Ronald was looking for. Samuel had been attending a prestigious boarding school since the age of six, had a heavy academic load with extra weekend classes and activities. And while he was excelling academically Ronald worried Samuel was being funnelled into a system and future they didn’t want. So they started looking for opportunities outside of China, and the smaller-town setting combined with athletic and musical opportunities at RJC led them there. “Samuel has found his way to a place where he can create his own future by the friends he chooses and freely grow his interests,” Ronald says. “He can begin to wrestle with the meaning of life and his purpose within the guidance of passionate teachers, fellow students and supportive community.”