Student achieves success and more

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Carmen Li graduates with the class of 2019.

2 years ago, seventeen year old Carmen Li came to Columbia International College to pursue her education abroad.  What she found was the opportunity to challenge herself academically as well as, developing her own personal growth.  With a big smile on her face, Carmen has successfully been admitted to study at the University of Hong Kong.

“I wanted to increase my employment chances, and I wanted to attend a school where I could be challenged to be the best version of myself.” – Carmen Li

Carmen’s average of 91.4% certified her to be accepted into the program for Bachelor of Business Administration (Law) and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Hong Kong.  Candidates applying to the University of Hong Kong must pass the faculty entrance requirements, and those applying for their BBA (Law) and LLB must also obtain a level 5 or above in English Language and a level 4 or above in Chinese Language and Mathematics.

With a passion in both business and law, Carmen is grateful and happy for the acceptance into the program.

“I wanted to increase my employment chances, and I wanted to attend a school where I could be challenged to be the best version of myself,” said Carmen.  Before her academic years at Columbia International College, Carmen decided she wanted to attend a boarding school to pursue her dream in law.  Carmen explains, “I wanted to come to Canada because it is safe and not that dense compared to Hong Kong. I researched CIC on the website, and I loved the diversity and community CIC embodied.”

Carmen soon found that any fear she had about not knowing anyone at the school, was quickly diminished when she easily created life-long friends who are all from diverse backgrounds.   She joined multiple clubs in the school such as: Leadership Training, Model UN and Varsity Basketball.  When asked what some of her strongest skills were, she happily beamed, “I am very good at planning ahead, multi-tasking and time management.  I believe prioritizing your tasks helps you to succeed.”

When asked about who her inspirations are, humbly Carmen replied, “I’m very self-motivated, but I am inspired by average people who are working hard to achieve their dreams.”  Carmen recounts a story about peer tutoring another student who had difficulty learning English.  However that student kept coming in for her tutoring, and despite the challenges she was eventually able to learn English.  Carmen explains, “You need to be determined and persistent and that’s what the student showed, and to me that is inspiring.”

With the success of achieving her goal in being accepted to the University of Hong Kong, Carmen is gracefully down-to-earth and a caring individual.  “Back in Hong Kong I helped tutor underprivileged children.  A little bit of help might make a big difference, that is why I continued to peer tutor at CIC,” said Carmen. Her passion in helping others is also exemplified in her participating in Model UN.

“I am inspired by average people who are working hard to achieve their dreams.”

Carmen Li

Carmen engaged in Model UN and represented the country of Peru.  Here she negotiated issues happening around the world with her allies.  Carmen raised the issue of the importance of sustainable development, while raising concerns and engaging the other countries to discuss solutions.  Carmen explains that she had experience in public speaking but Model UN allowed her to enhance her public speaking skills and as well as her debating skills.   “I would definitely recommend the program to other students,” said Carmen.

The staff, the guidance counselors and liaison department have all been very welcoming to Carmen, as she expresses how memorable CIC has been.  Coming to CIC has provided Carmen with a way to become more involved in activities and stepping out of her comfort zone.  Carmen explains, “When you’re given the opportunity, why not?”

Carmen happily smiles and continues to illuminate how important it is to find what you love and to pursue your passions.  Carmen states, “Some advice I would give to other students is to stretch your limits.  Be the best version of yourself!  It’s important to engage in activities that you enjoy and make you happy.  If you want a fulfilled life you have to do what you like, and not what others tell you.”

Congratulations Carmen on your success at CIC and may you continue to find success and happiness in your future endeavors!


New Partnership with McMaster University

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We are proud to announce a new on-going partnership with McMaster University!

This new partnership will recognize the community contributions of Columbia International College students who are entering their studies at McMaster University.  8 new scholarships of $5,000 each, will be awarded to CIC students who are graduating in 2018-2019, and are starting their undergraduate studies at McMaster University in 2019-2020.  These scholarships will be jointly funded by the Columbia International Scholarship Endowment Fund and McMaster University and will continue each year.

Columbia International College and McMaster University have had a longstanding partnership in education, philanthropy and community involvement.  CIC students have been annually receiving acceptances to study at McMaster University, and have been volunteering at McMaster’s Children’s Hospital for more than 7 years.  CIC students have also helped raise close to $100,000 through CIC fundraisers and the hospital’s walk-a-thon!  This new scholarship will recognize the incredible achievements of Columbia International College students who continue to serve their communities and will set them up for success as they go on to new beginnings.

Thank you McMaster University!

CIC Announces Two Scholarships In Celebration of 40th Anniversary

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2019 marks Columbia International College’s 40th Birthday! As part of our 40th Anniversary celebrations, we’re holding two exciting scholarships/contests. We encourage all students to apply and here’re the rubrics and essay descriptions.

40th Anniversary Scholarship


1st Prize: $5,000.00 to student & $5000.00 donation for a registered Canadian charity of your choice

2nd Prize: $2,000.00

3rd Prize: $1,000.00

For university, college or CIC tuition.

Who can enter?

All students who currently study at CIC- grades 7-12.

Due date

April 5, 2019 by 5:00 PM. Please deliver the essay in person to Student Development Office: Ainsliewood Room S244 or Cedar Room 217

Essay length

1,000 words or less


A committee comprised of a minimum of three staff will determine the winning essays. Announced by May 3, 2019 and presented at graduation May 15, 2019.

Essay Question

CIC is now 40 years old.  Imagine yourself at 40.  How will your experiences at CIC contribute to your personal and professional development, and help you overcome obstacles and reach your goals?

Essay Checklist


  • Has an interesting attention getter related to the topic
  • Introduces the topic
  • Essay map is clearly worded and relates to the thesis
  • Thesis is arguable, strong and clearly worded

Paragraph structure:

  • Points are reasons why the argument is true
  • Proofs/examples support points in a meaningful way
  • Commentary/analysis explains how the proofs prove the points and contains a clear connection to the argument
  • Paragraphs progress in a cohesive manner to support the thesis


  • Re-states the thesis
  • Re-states the essay map
  • Has a memorable ending to make the reader think


  • Elevated vocabulary is used Comments:
  • Sentences are clear and grammatically correct

The Mosaic Scholarship

The Mosaic Scholarship award is designed to recognize students who embrace multi-cultural values through their actions and words. Three scholarships of $2,000 will be awarded annually, one each in May, June and December, to the graduate who has demonstrated the wisdom to respect and understand others and is willing to embrace and engage people from different cultures.

$ 2,000.00 for university, college or CIC tuition.

Who can enter?
Students graduating in May 2019

Due date
April 5, 2019 by 5:00 PM. Please deliver the essay in person to Student Development Office: Ainsliewood Room S244 or Cedar Room 217

Essay length
500 words or less

Winning Essays

A committee comprised of a minimum of three staff will determine the winning essays. Winners will be announced at graduation May 15, 2019.

Essay Question
What values have you learned from the multi-cultural community of CIC?

Essay Checklist


  • Has an interesting attention getter related to the topic
  • Introduces the topic
  • Essay map is clearly worded and relates to the thesis
  • Thesis is arguable, strong and clearly worded

Paragraph structure:

  • Points are reasons why the  argument is true
  • Proofs/examples support points in a meaningful way
  • Commentary/analysis explains how the proofs prove the points and contains a clear connection to the argument
  • Paragraphs progress in a cohesive manner to support the thesis


  • Re-states the thesis
  • Re-states the essay map
  • Has a memorable ending to make the reader think


  • Sentences are clear and grammatically correct
  • Elevated vocabulary is used

 * CIC reserves the right to publish the essay in part or entirety

CIC hosts Crime Stoppers of Hamilton’s annual Evening of Appreciation

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Columbia International College has been a supporter of Hamilton Crime Stoppers Inc. since 1995.  Mr. Ron Rambarran, Columbia’s Emeritus Principal, has sat on the Board of Hamilton Crime Stoppers Inc. since 1995.  He has been thrice past chair of the program and received the 2015 International Civilian of the Year award from Crime Stoppers International.

Crime Stoppers is a community organization dedicated to engaging citizens in maintaining safe communities across the world. It is a partnership among the community, the local media and the police.

Columbia International College hosts Crime Stoppers of Hamilton’s annual Evening of Appreciation in January of each year.  At this event, Crime Stoppers recognizes those members of the partnership (community, media, police services) who have contributed significantly to the program in the previous year.

Click below for pictures from the event:

Posted by Columbia International College on Monday, January 28, 2019

Google Classroom: Columbia International College as a Digital School

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Beginning in January 2019, Columbia teachers and students will take part in a pilot program using Google Classroom as a learning management system and digital classroom platform. Through the Classroom page and app, students have 24-7 access to all of their learning materials in addition to the applications offered through GSuite; Google Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Calendar, Sites, Chats, Forms, and Photos. Each of these enables teachers to create a dynamic classroom where students collaborate, explore, and extend their knowledge. Flipped classrooms, student feedback systems, and media integration put the discovery of new knowledge in the student’s hands.

Google Classroom allows teachers to move beyond the traditional classroom setting and develop a digital educational community. Students have the opportunity to create content and enhance their learning, leading to greater achievement and success. The digital classroom takes into account the technology of the world today that students will soon find themselves immersed and working in as they move onto post-secondary education and to future careers.

CIC is dedicated to providing a safe, caring, and inclusive learning environment, which extends to the technology we integrate into the classroom. We strive to teach students responsible and efficient online practices in the digital classroom. Students can reflect upon their contributions and develop strong critical thinking and communication skills while taking initiative for their own learning and success.

Schools across the globe have adopted Google Classroom as their learning management system, providing students and teachers with the opportunity to grow, learn, and succeed. CIC looks forward to continuing to enrich the learning community and further prepare students for their academic future with this new educational platform.

CIC Students Leave Their Mark in Ecuador

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On December 8, 2018, 16 CIC students and 2 staff members, Columbia International College embarked on a ME to WE overseas trip to Quito, Ecuador.

The purpose of the trip was to give students an immersive cultural experience abroad that will help them learn how their privilege (by coming from developed areas) can help others who are not as fortunate. Whilst helping improve the quality of life of the locals of the communities they visited, the students who participated were able to earn around 30 hours of community service hours.

Each day, the students participated in leadership initiatives, cultural activities, and community service (they may help build a school, dig a well, or work on an irrigation project).

Here are updates we received from the very passionate students/participants while they were in Ecuador:

December 10, 2018

Last night we arrived at Quito, a great city to explore. This morning we started with a walking tour through the old town, wandering around the colonial streets and exploring the squares. We learnt a lot about the story of the place and even tried “dog’s poop”, a traditional treat with a funny name!

Then we had lunch at Itchimbia park, located in one of the surrounding hills.
Later this afternoon we visited the equator museum, where we learnt by many fun activities some interesting facts of the equator and this country.
Tomorrow we’ll be heading to the Amazon to start our service portion of the trip.


December 10, 2018

On Monday we enjoyed an amazing road trip across the Ecuadorian highlands and then down to the Amazon basin, in our way we enjoyed beautiful views of constantly changing landscapes. After a day on the road we finally reached out destination, located in Mondaña ( Napo province). Minga Lodge will be our home for the coming week.

On our first day of volunteer work, we finally meet the community that we will be collaborating with. The community is called Kanambu, and the name means the palm that is commonly used for traditional constructions. We had the chance to walk around the school,  meet some kids, and the foreman who will support us during the week. We will be working in the foundation for a water project there. We carried some rocks, we mix some cement but mainly we had a lot of fun sharing with our friends during the day. Attached is a photo of us on the build site. We had a great day on Tuesday and after dinner we celebrated Bruce’s birthday, we got some cake and fun night! We will keep you updated on our adventures!


December 13, 2018

We continue our adventure in the Amazon !! We visited a very interesting farm named Agricultural Learning Center, there the WE organization runs a program to train local farmers and volunteers about better practices, focused on diversity and quality of the crops by connecting the activity with the surrounding environment. There we visited a few areas of the farm and learnt about the different crops they cultivate, but mainly about the cacao plantation. Then we came back to Minga Lodge to put in practice what we learned about cacao and made our own artisan chocolate! It was absolutely tasty!

We also had the chance to explore the jungle a little bit more. We went on a hike looking for a giant Kapok tree. We saw some birds and local plants used to different purposes, like medicines, traditional construction, cosmetic and others. We attached some pics to share a little bit about our amazing hike.

Friday after working super hard in the build site of Kanambu, the community that we have been working this week,  we had the chance to visit “Flor Bonita”, an artisanal group of women that works and sell handicrafts as an extra income for their families. They taught us to make a bracelet and also showed us some  great dance steps 😊.


We at CIC are incredibly proud of these students for doing their part in changing the world.

2018 Cedar Fall Talent Show

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Cedar’s got talent! Every year our ESL and Junior Middle School students lead by Student Development at Cedar Building, put together a show that celebrates talent, diversity and the spirit of the Canadian traditions for Christmas!!!

Since the beginning of November, all the performers put their time and hard work to practice and rehearse. We are all so proud of our students, we had a variety of talents: singers, rappers, dancers, pianists and very talented MCs that made us laugh. We also had 2 special visitors that day. Cicero, the school mascot and Santa Claus came to hand chocolates and wish everybody a wonderful holiday.

Staff and students, one more time, enjoyed the show!

Cedar’s got talent! Every year our ESL and Junior Middle School students lead by Student Development at Cedar Building,…

Posted by Columbia International College on Thursday, December 6, 2018

First-Ever CIC Character Awards

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CIC is devoted to building character in its students by teaching them key values that create responsible global citizens.

On November 28, Columbia International College (CIC), held its first ever ‘Character Awards,’  an award ceremony particularly dedicated to recognizing students who excel not only excel in their academics but also their attitude in and out of the classroom.

In the words of our Vice Principal:

Having  our first ever Character Award’s ceremony to celebrate our student’s commitment to our character attributes was of the utmost importance to Bill Ironside (Principal) and I. We believe it aligns with our Total Care Education approach and that of the Ontario Educational Program. Celebrating all student successes including character attributes as well as academic excellence honours the whole student. What makes CIC the best place in the world to learn and work is our students, staff and our families. We all believe in the importance of  instilling good values in our students, preparing them for their future and celebrating  important character virtues like honesty, perseverance, inclusiveness, optimism, respect, caring integrity and responsibility to name a few. I am beyond very proud to serve this community as your Vice Principal. I genuinely admire our students and their families daily. They have sacrificed a tremendous amount to study abroad and pursue their dreams. They are resilient, strong, kind and a purposeful in their direction. Character is the key to success, and I am confident our students are well on their way to successful futures supported by our outstanding CIC team. At Columbia, we care.

The Characters traits, listed below, are defined by our students and show their commitment to the principles of character.


We demonstrate concern for self and others.
We show kindness towards each other.

These students were described as having great leadership in helping others; engaging in thoughtful discussions with others and being open-minded; helping others and always being kind- never frustrated; being appreciative of anyone that helps them as well; finding ways to bring happiness to others.



Honesty & Integrity:

We are truthful and sincere with ourselves and others.
We admit our mistakes.
Integrity as defined by CIC staff and students
We always try to do what is right even when no one else is around.

We are trustworthy and what we say matches what we do.

These candidates were recognized for actively taking responsibility for their actions and advocating on behalf of others.




We work to build a community where everyone feels included and where differences and diversity are honoured.

These students were described as students who encourage classmates to greater involvement and understanding; finding ways to connect and help others; actively works to make CIC a welcoming community to all; makes all members of their team feel valued and successful




We think, speak and act positively. 
We see challenges as opportunities.
We have hope for the future.

These students were described as being inclusive and optimistic and their attitude emanates throughout the class; having a great attitude and always encouraging others; exuding positive energy; bringing optimism and enthusiasm to the class.




We stick to our goals in spite of difficulties.
We are committed to finishing what we start to the best of our ability.
We are determined to work hard.

These students were described as never giving up; carrying on with determination, humour and optimism despite difficulties; showing dedication to improvement; working hard and being unafraid to ask questions for themselves or others


    JIA WU


We value ourselves, others and our environment.
We treat people the way we want to be treated with courtesy and politeness.

These students were described as filled with passion and respect and pushing for excellence; being respectful of staff and students and helping you before you even know you need help; being polite, courteous and kind to all.




We can be trusted and follow through on all our commitments.

We are accountable for all we say and do.

These students were described as students who are dedicated and seek out constructive feedback to maximize their learning potential; taking on leadership roles and giving all members of their team a sense of purpose; being model students by balancing school and extra-curricular roles; setting a great example


Self Confidence and Self-Advocacy

We believe in ourselves.
We are committed to meeting our goals and seeking help from others when necessary.

These recipients were described as setting high goals, seeking help and acting on advice given; striving for excellence



Fall 2018 Award Ceremony

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During Columbia’s Fall Semester Award Ceremony, held on Nov 27th, accomplishments of our students in extracurricular activities were celebrated in a grand way. This is a bi-annual tradition hosted by the Student Development Office to “give credit where credit is due.”

These recipients were honoured since they took upon themselves and achieved tremendous success in respective areas of school life: clubs, sports, residence, community service… they also showed great character and leadership skills.

Columbia thanks all students who have brought joy and vibrancy to the school over the semester. Keep up the good work!

Here are photos from the award ceremony:

Posted by Columbia International College on Wednesday, November 28, 2018

2nd Annual “Arts in Unison” Showcase

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On Friday, November 16th, Columbia presented its second annual “Arts in Unison” showcase, composed of dramas, music performances and digital shorts.

This acclaimed project is a collaboration amongst students from Grade 11 and 12 drama and vocal classes, as well as the school band. All props and backdrops were designed by volunteers from the visual arts class.

The showcase featured:

  • Solo Performances from Mr. Lawlis’ Music Class
  • Adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by Grade 11 Drama Class
  • “The Scientist” & “California Dreamin’” by Grade 11 Vocal Class
  • “Night Train” by School Band
  • “Threshold”, a silent film by The Six Productions
  • “Tracking Mr. Hand”, a silent film by The Detective Company
  • Adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by Grade 12 Drama Class

Columbia has long been committed to character building and has also woven positive values into interest development. Arts in Unison not only showcases our students’ talents, but also helps boost their confidence and expand their career opportunities.

We’d thank all those involved in the production process.


The performances will be available on our YouTube channel soon. In the meantime, check out photos from the festivities below!

Posted by Columbia International College on Tuesday, November 20, 2018