Updated: Oct 4
New this year, the student support position is a pilot project of the NCS Board.
Join us in welcoming Ben Sijpheer (Class of 2017) to Nanaimo Christian School in the new role of alumni intern. This is the first year the position, a pilot project of the NCS Board, has been offered. The part-time internship allows Ben to work alongside NCS middle and high school staff in a student support role as he pursues studies at Vancouver Island University in child and youth care.
"Since he graduated five years ago, Ben just kept showing up for a bunch of the kids at NCS, to coach them and mentor them,” says Jenn Tonsi, NCS Board Chair. “He loved them unconditionally without asking anything in return and he wasn’t paid for it. He has character and grit and he shares his testimony with a passion that makes a difference in kids’ lives. It was actually his way of being that inspired the idea of this internship."
The NCS alumni internship invests in former NCS students and provides an opportunity for them to grow as leaders in a Christian setting while they pursue studies in a field related to education or child/youth care at Vancouver Island University. This is a unique and innovative opportunity in the Nanaimo area where post-secondary Christian education is currently limited.
“We hope this internship will have a positive impact within the NCS school community as well as in the greater community,” says Tonsi. “We hope Ben and the interns that may follow him will share their learning experiences from NCS and their Christian perspective as they collaborate with university students in post-secondary classrooms.”
In his student support role, Ben is building connections with students one-on-one and in the overall classroom. He will also co-coach the NCS senior boys’ basketball team, assist in other teams’ practices, and coach at the Believe Basketball Academy.
Before starting his degree at VIU and his internship at NCS, Ben worked with kids during a YWAM outreach trip in Kyrgyzstan. He also spent time volunteering as an NCS basketball coach and grew close to one player in particular who was going through a tough time.
“I knew I was where I needed to be, and being a friend felt like doing what I was supposed to be doing,” says Sijpheer about his work with kids. “I kept getting all these little pokes from God. He made it very clear that I was doing the right thing.”
Ben often shares his own story about when he got sick with cancer in his Grade 12 year at NCS and God intervened. He was angry about the illness and says on one evening he went from slamming a coffee table to hearing God say to him in a very clear moment that he was going to be ok. His life was forever changed.
“I was lying in bed that night just smiling knowing and feeling peace,” he says. “I think it unnerved my mom a little bit that I wasn’t more concerned about my health. I just knew everything would be ok. It was one of those surreal things. It makes you realize how real a relationship is with Jesus. Growing up through Christian education I was able to understand that moment, otherwise I would’ve been freaked out.”
Now, as a student at VIU, Ben often has opportunities to share his personal story and his NCS internship experiences. He says he “stirs the pot a little in class with Christian examples.” The impact of God on his life is already being felt on the Vancouver Island University campus.