It is an adventurous student who chooses to leave home and travel more than 8,000 kilometres to complete high school in a foreign land far away from family and friends. Viktor Amador is one of those students. The 17-year-old native of Sao Paulo, Brazil is among 540 foreign students attending public school in Nova Scotia this year as part of the Nova Scotia International Student Program. The program is marking its 10th anniversary this year. “I knew the education here in Canada, in Nova Scotia, would be better than in Brazil,” said Mr. Amador, who is in Grade 12 at Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro. “I have not been disappointed.” Since 1997, more than 3,300 international students have chosen to come to Nova Scotia to learn English, earn high school credits and immerse themselves in Canadian and Nova Scotian culture. This year, there are students from 14 countries, including Mexico, Thailand, Korea and the Netherlands. “I thought it would be a great experience,” said Mr. Amador, who wants to study at Dalhousie University after he graduates. “It has been incredible getting to know a new culture, develop my English, meet new people and go to a country that I have never been to before.” Education Minister Karen Casey said the dramatic growth in the popularity of the program has been a boon to both visiting students and Nova Scotian students as well as the almost 500 families that host them. “The Nova Scotia International Student Program gives our students a first-hand appreciation of the wider world and of other cultures. It also benefits our the province economically,” she said. The economic spin-offs to the province are significant. Last year, international students contributed $6.8 million to the Nova Scotia economy. “I grew up in rural Nova Scotia and never had the chance to meet students from other countries when I was in school. Today children think it is normal to have students from China or Colombia in their classes, just as normal as getting on a plane and flying to the other side of the planet,” said Paul Millman, executive director, Nova Scotia International Student Program. “They live in a different world than I grew up in and the program has been a big part of creating this environment for students across Nova Scotia,” Flags commemorating the anniversary of the program are being delivered to participating high schools across the province today, Oct. 12.