All Posts By

Harvey Jiang

Fashion Show – A Celebration of Cultural Diversity

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Welcome to the Spirit Week at Columbia International College, the most diverse private school in Canada! It’s one of the many events celebrating multiculturalism and diversity at Columbia.

At the annual Fashion Show held on Sep 28, Students and staff of all different races walked down the runway and showed off colorful outfits representing their countries of origin and unique identity.

JMS Students Put On Alice In Wonderland Jr

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After four months of preparations and rehearsals, the Junior Middle School at Columbia International College held a performance called Alice In Wonderland Jr on June 8th.


Head of Junior Middle School Denice Garell-Teti could barely contain her excitement when she introduced the play to the audience including parents flying from overseas to attend the JMS graduation ceremony on June 21st.


Alice in Wonderland Jr. has been adapted for young performers and is a fast paced version of the original story.


JMS teacher Mark Jackson is the director of the play. He said “The JMS department edited the script to accommodate the number of students we have and to allow them to reach their full potential. We explored 6 musical numbers that have been transposed into keys appropriate for young voices.”


The school play included 100% participation from all students in the JMS department.


The play includes such wonderfully wacky characters that there is plenty of opportunity to showcase students of all different skill levels, including musical talent. In addition to dramatic arts as a subject, students also take Visual Arts and Music.


Not only do students learn about stage direction and blocking, but theater provides the opportunity for students to be creative, work collaboratively, problem solve and gain confidence in their English speaking abilities.”


Maria Zheng is the leading actress playing Alice. She’s also a talented Ballet dancer and owns her Youtube channel on children’s book reviews.


At CIC,JMS students are fostered under the unique YAA (Young Academic Achievers) Program which provides them with great opportunities to thrive not just academically, but also socially, emotionally and physically. Student talents are showcased in an annual JMS art gallery and school-wide talent shows.

600 Graduates Turn The Tassels At CIC May Graduation

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Video: CIC 2018 May Graduation Ceremony

  • 21:50 Processional and Choir
  • 33:50 Principal’s Address
  • 43:50 Keynote Speech
  • 54:55 Diploma Presentation
  • 1:53:20 Awards and Scholarships
  • 2:15:55 The Valedictory Address
  • 2:28:50 Vote of Thanks
  • 2:38:35 Remarks from Executive Director
  • 2:48:45 Cap Tossing
  • 2:51:30 Recessional


On Thursday, May 16th, Columbia International College (CIC) celebrated over 600 May graduates with a grand ceremony held at the FirstOntario Concert Hall. This event was live streamed over social media and amassed thousands of views from all over the world.

CIC began with a dream… a dream to make things better for international students living and studying abroad. In 1979, the dream took flight in a small building on Mohawk Road West with just 9 students and 6 staff. It evolved each and every year, and grew to become Canada’s largest private boarding, junior middle, and university preparatory school.


During the 2017-2018 academic year, CIC students contributed 39,105 hours of community services. In a warm letter of congratulations to the graduates, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger highly recognizes the accomplishments of Columbia’s Total Care Education and the positive impact the students have made on the local community.

The Orchestra Hall was packed with proud friends, families, staff and guests from all over the world, enthusiastically watching the graduates bring this chapter of their life to a close and step into the future with great confidence.

Representatives from many Ontario universities were invited to the ceremony. They were on behalf of Brock University, Guelph University, OUIT, University of Ottawa, Ryerson University, University of Toronto, Wilfred Laurier University, York University.


School band and choir performed the national anthem “O Canada”.

Principal Steve Saunders offered his welcome to the audience. He encouraged all the graduates to be resilient in the face of failures and rebound back from challenges.


Professor Edward Sargent, Vice-President, International of the University of Toronto, delivered an inspiring keynote speech, urging the graduates to take some risks in the future since risking the safety of comfort will propel them forward and excel.

“When we’re mentally imprisoned, we’re acting as our own jailers.” He said: “therefore, we have the power to be our own liberators.”

He spoke of his own experiences, attributing his academic, professional, business achievements and even a  happy marriage to risk taking.

This is undoubtedly the most cheerful moment of the ceremony – graduates were called onto the stage and received their diplomas and scholarships.  Applause erupted from the crowd as they walked across the stage and waved to the families.

Darius Mwesigwa offered words of wisdom in the valedictory speech. Since he came to Columbia in 2014, Darius has been on multiple executive leadership teams, growing as a leader throughout his time, culminating in him being an inaugural member of the Residence Life Prefect team, receiving the top honor of being nominated the Residence Life Prefect of the semester by his peers.


Darius described his four years at CIC as “an amazing journey” and this graduating class as “one of the most successful that CIC has produced.”

He urged the fellow graduates to push boundaries and “enlarge your comfort zone”.

“Seek opportunities, strive to obtain them and, in the end, reap success.”

“You have the potential to build a legacy for yourselves and build a community from poverty,” he exhorted his classmates.


Madina Usserbayavas delivered a heartfelt Vote of Thanks. During her time at Columbia, Madina found the time to complete her Bronze level Duke of Edinburgh, accumulated over 250 community service hours while being involved in many athletic clubs.


Madina shared her personal stories that resonated with all graduates and thanked CIC staff and teachers for helping her develop academic and social skills for future success. . She credited the Total Care Education® for providing students with unique opportunities to make smooth transition into the new life and grow holistically.


In his closing remarks, Executive Director Clement Chan thanked parents for entrusting their children to CIC. He stressed that Total Care Education is very unique and, over the past 39 years, CIC’s various departments have teamed together to help students to achieve great accomplishments.

As the ceremony drew to a close, graduates tossed their caps high into the air and let out a great whoop. Congratulations to the 2018 May graduating class and we wish you the best in the future!

                                                                                                           Graduation Photos

Watch more videos on our Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiNLscRwLJ-aF3DpOUc-wBQ

Columbia Celebrates Student Achievements In A Big Way

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At Columbia International College (CIC), student achievements are celebrated in a big way. On April 25th, Columbia held an award ceremony to recognize those who truly excel in extracurricular activities and character building.

Hosted by Student Development, the ceremony is a bi-annual tradition that highlights the exceptional contribution of our students to the CIC and Hamilton community.

Character building through out-of-class activities has been the core of Columbia’s Total Care Education since its inception in 1979. We are pleased to have developed numerous students into global citizens and made a great difference in the world around us.

Congratulations to all of the winners! Keep shining!

Check out pictures from the ceremony below!

For more photos, please visit our Facebook page by clicking here!

CIC Students Shine at New York Model UN

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During Mar 16-18, Columbia International College delegates tried their hands at the Change the World Model United Nations (CWMUN) for the third consecutive year and displayed remarkable debating, presentation and conflict resolution skills throughout the simulations.

The three-day annual event held at the UN Headquarters in New York City attracted over 2,500 students from all around the world. Five CIC students were recognized for outstanding contributions in the committees and countries they represented:

  • Best Position Paper: Chi Weng Mou (Kimmy)
  • Honorable Mention: Zimu Zhao, Lecheng Zeng (Charlie), Karen-Olivia Kouame, Nandi Traore

“Upon entering the General Assembly Hall for opening ceremonies, the students expressed much excitement and willingness to resolve global issues, ” said Anthony Mattiacci, CIC’s Senior Activities Advisor overseeing the training program.

Since 2016, CIC students have participated in the CWMUN, stepping into shoes of UN ambassadors and debating major issues challenging the world.

The preparation seminars are also a great way to help students develop skills in leadership, research, public presentation and consensus building through negotiation.

CIC has received lots of positive feedback on our delegates’ accomplishments.  If you see the members of the Model U.N. Team, please congratulate them on their hard work and achievements at the conference.

Photos by Anthony Mattiacci

Best Things To Do In March

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March is coming! It could be warm and breezy today and bone-chilling tomorrow. So, we’d remind all the students to dress for the weather, eat well and keep fit. Aside form your regular routines, the Student Development Office is offering a slew of exciting activities in March – community service, sports, special meals, movies… Each day will be packed full of fun!

Mar 2nd (Fri):

Mapleview Shopping

Mar 3rd(Sat):

30 Hour Famine

Mar 4th(Sun):

  • Toronto Raptors
  • HSBC Chilly1/2 Marathon & Frosty 5K

March 5-6(Mon、Tue):

March Orientation

March 7(Wed):

ICS South America

March 10-12(Sat – Mon):

  • Duke of Edinburgh at Bark Lake
  • Niagara Falls

March 12(Mon):

Ontario Gleaners

March 12-16(Mon – Fri):

March Break

March 15-20(Thu – Sun):

Model UN trip in NYC

March 16-17(Fri、Sat):

Wizard World

March 21(Wed):

ICS Mexico lunch

March 23(Fri):

Movie: Tomb Raider

March 24(Sat):

Leadership Retreat

March 29(Thu):

International Fashion Show

March 30(Fri):

Good Friday Holiday

March 31(Sat):

  • Royal Ontario Museum
  • Afro Fest
  • Buttons and Bows

Any questions, please visit the Student Development Office at S244.

Campus Tours Help With Your University Decisions

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It’s late February now and university offers are arriving in a matter of just weeks! Many students will be facing a pleasant challenge: to pick one from multiple offers. In order to help them make the final choice, the University Placement Office (UPO) have arranged an array of university tours in March and April.

  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology,Saturday, March3,Sign up by Friday, February 23
  • Western University,Saturday, March 10,Sign up by Friday, March 2
  • University of Waterloo,Saturday, March 10,Sign up by Friday, March 2
  • University of Toronto (St. George Campus),Saturday, March17,Sign up by Friday, March 9
  • University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus),Saturday, March24,Sign up by Friday, March 16
  • York University,Saturday, March 24,Sign up by Friday, March 16
  • University of Toronto (Mississauga Campus),Sunday, March 25,Sign up by Friday, March 16
  • University of Guelph,Sunday, March 25,Sign up by Friday, March 16
  • Brock University,Sunday, April 8,Sign up by Friday, March 30

Campus tour is a great way to explore your university and program options. Admission Officers and student ambassadors will be on site to give walking tours and get your questions answered one-on-one.

Ready to sign up?  For each tour, there’s a $10 fee to be paid at the College Store and you’re also required to sign up at the UPO.  There are limited spots for each tour, so register as early as possible. 

2017  University Tours Videos


University of Toronto, St. George Campus


McMaster University


York University

Spirit Week Unites CIC Community

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Spirit week is back! This biannual tradition features four unique dress-up theme days: pajama, jersey, cultural and wacky. The fun starts every morning before class. You can play hilarious games that will add some excitement to your day.

Students and teachers as well are getting dressed in probably the most outlandish outfits or dazzling costumes you’ve ever seen. Most importantly, be creative and show off your unique identity!

CIC is a community of 1800 students from over 70 countries. Spirit Week provides a great opportunity to foster cultural confidence and advocate inclusiveness on the campus. For more information, please contact the Student Development Office.

Spirit Week Photo Galleries:

Columbia Acknowledged for Ensuring Student Safety and Wellness

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On January 13th, 2018, the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Toronto held a forum on Chinese students’ safety and wellness in Canada. Columbia International College, The University of Toronto, and a select educational associations were acknowledged for their tremendous contributions to ensure students’ overall health and safety.


Zhuang Yaodong, the acting Chinese Consul General in Toronto, said there are 80,000 Chinese students in Ontario and Manitoba and some have encountered safety and mental health issues.

He cautioned that 2017 saw a rise in scams targeting Chinese students and many victims have suffered economic losses and psychological impact.


Mr. Clement Chan (right) , Executive Director of Columbia Intentional College, received a Letter of Acknowledgement from Mr. Zhuang and delivered an address on how Columbia has been helping numerous young students grow up in a safe and healthy environment since 1979.

Mr. Chan said: “Different from domestic students, international students do not have a home to return to after school. Therefore, schools which offer only academic programs are not providing sufficient services to care for them.”


“Remember, the young students are not coming to Canada just to study, they are here to grow up with us. ”

Mr. Chan stressed that young students need support and guidance in a holistic way — caring services to support their Academic, Social, Emotional and Physical (ASEP) needs.

Columbia has been looking after students with its unique ASEP Total Care Education System® for almost 40 years. It has grown to become North America’s largest boarding high school.

How I Scored 9.0 in IELTS Listening and Reading?

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Relax and don’t stress out – it’s a simple but useful exam tip from Justin Wong, a Grade 12 student at Columbia International College who scored Band 9 in both Listening and Reading in his first IELTS attempt in Dec 2017. He spent a total of two days preparing for the exam and achieved a whopping overall Band of 8.5.

“For listening and writing, I watched  YouTube videos and reviewed some past exam questions.” Justin said. “I didn’t practice for writing. The most important thing is the structure – don’t go off topic.”

Justin left Hong Kong at age 14 and entered Grade 10 at Columbia. “I learned English under Hong Kong’s IGCSE system.” He said. “But 90% of the time we spoke Cantonese. ”

He describes Columbia as a great place to mingle with students from different countries in class, sports, community services, cultural events and so on.

“Only 10% of my friends are from Hong Kong and that helps with my English.”

Justine believes time management is vital in achieving a balanced life style. He usually finishes most of the school work before going back to the residence and spends the evening working out in gym, hanging out with friends or peer tutoring fellow students.

Justin is graduating in May 2018 and he hopes to study business in university.