HIGH SCHOOLSHORT TERMSTUDENT EXCHANGE PROGRAMS By Lauren Finaldi Joliet Catholic Academy www.profeTunes.blogspot.com
Benefits Language immersion More likely to study abroad in college Unique opportunity Experience life in another culture Lifelong friends/connections Become global citizens Broadens prospective of own country
Challenges School administration School policies Bad past experiences with tours Students/teachers missing school Parents Financial Fears Planning
Getting started Arrange for group from abroad to come to your school first. Groups come early September or January, so start planning year prior Find organization to work with “home stay” vs. “exchange” Make a flyer for all FL teachers to hand out and talk it up in classes/clubs*
Ways to recruit more families Extend personal invitations to families you know Have information available at Parent/Teacher nights, other school events Ask enthusiastic students to help recruit their friends Include in School Newsletters, send email out to all families in school
Planning the Visit: Part I Hold a meeting for all students/parents interested in helping with the plans Set up Edline/other online group Create an online calendar Recruit parents to help organize/chaperone specific events
Calendar of Events* Include after-school options almost every day, more in beginning of stay After school & weekend activities are optional if the family has something else planned, but keep in mind students generally like to be together Have brief before-school meetings and after-school meet-ups (help arrange rides) Help make arrangements for guests whose host brother/sister works or is on a team, etc. If travel organization has planned some activities, see if you can attend.
Party Ideas Welcome Party/Barbecue Day of arrival or following day, all family members encouraged to attend Ask for families to volunteer their house Food donations or assign each family something to contribute Goodbye Party/Gathering Host house or restaurant/pizza parlor
Weekend Ideas Shopping mall Trip to city Sporting events Theater events Family gatherings College visits Short trips to places such as Galena, Starved Rock, etc. Boat trip Concert Church
Field Trip Ideas Meet the Mayor Trip to City Local attractions Scavenger hunt Local museums Guided tours Amusement park Boat ride Local college visit Local sports Fire station Theater
After-School Ideas Dodge ball game Any school events School sport Cooking/Baking events Barbeque Ice-cream, FroYo Mini Golf parlor Movie night Laser Tag Bowling Shopping Mall Arcade
In-School Ideas Shadow host brother/sister (2 days, max.) Shadow someone new (FL Club, etc.) Split into small groups and spend day talking to foreign language classes Subject of choice day (PE, Art, Music, etc.) Spanish Class Parties
Planning the Visit: Part 2 Work with teacher from other country to match students Note: food allergies, age, animal fears/allergies, introvert, extrovert, sports, interests Begin communication among students and families Create Facebook page for group Add all members, share pictures of school, etc. Exchange email addresses
Planning the Visit: Part 3 School approval Field trips/subs, etc Outside activities School lunches Bus to school School publicity/marketing School marquis/sign Bulletin boards Newsletters Press Release
Planning the visit: Part 4 Make arrangements for all field trips/outside activities Don’t forget tax exempt papers if applicable Keep list of all contacts Confirm all events two days prior Make transportation arrangements as needed Encourage family carpools
Planning the Visit: Part 4 Set up several means of communication Email Group Edline Group Facebook Page Text Groups Host Information Sheets Evites Twitter
Planning the Visit: Part 5 Hold a mandatory meeting for all parents/students 1- 2 weeks before arrival of group Introduce everyone, facilitate friendships General information on group, country of origin, etc., main differences in customs, habits, etc. Go over calendar Hand out permission slips, contact information, etc. How to be a good host family What to do in case of problems Who pays for what? (Students have their own spending money but if going to a restaurant or somewhere as a family, please pay for your guest)
Arrival! Each host family should have at least one person to greet and pick up student Get notification from organization or teacher from abroad when group is within half-hour from pick-up location and send out texts to families. Greet with: welcome signs, balloons, etc.
Once Home… Be aware of time difference/jet lag Speak slowly and clearly, repeat if needed Ask to see pictures of their family, house, etc. Introduce all family members/photos of any not present Typical family routines, rules What to do with laundry If sharing a bathroom, discuss shower routines Provide towels, ask if they need any other toiletries or forgot anything Discuss use of electronics, WIFI, etc. and communicating with home
First School Days All teachers in school should have been notified of guests shadowing host brothers/sisters All host brothers and sisters and guests meet in classroom before school Welcome! See if principal or other administrator can greet Discuss school rules/expectations (stay with host!) Tour Allow visiting teacher to talk to his/her group. Make sure all is well. Meet after school if going to event, help arrange carpools, etc.
Possible Issues Student unhappy with host family, vice-versa Someone in family gets ill Host student gets ill Misbehavior Drinking, parties, etc. Student doesn’t have enough money
Length and Dates Typically two weeks in length. Typically over Easter or Christmas break, plus miss some days of school
What to Look for in aTravel Organization Easy to contact representatives any time of day, ease of communication, quick responses Flexibility of programs (dates, excursions, etc.) References. Call other school who have used them before How long have they been in business? Try to Google the name of company + complaints
What should be included: Round trip airfare (including luggage) from your local city Bus/train transportation with escort from airport to final destination Hotel stays as needed (check website or references for hotels) Some meals during hotel stays Guided tours Travel insurance
Promote the Trip Hand out information to interested students* School announcements, newsletter, posters, website, etc. Visit school FL clubs, FL Honor Society meetings You generally need more student participants than group tours, usually 12+
Participants Must APPLY* Require students to apply to the program and provide teacher signatures, references and possibly write in target language. Give approximately two weeks until deadline.
Informative Meeting Schedule a meeting in the evening so parents can attend. (approximately one hour) Hand out information/itinerary provided by organization Organization may provide slideshow Introduce yourself and other chaperones. Tell qualifications and why you are excited about this trip Answer questions Go over payment plans, etc.
Acceptance Letters* Send a list of applicants to school deans, guidance counselors and business office (private schools) to get their approval of applicants. Talk to other teachers, check references as needed. Send letter of acceptance/or denial to applicants* Include information on how to sign up Include Parent Consent Form Include date of first meeting
Paperwork Fortunately, many organizations now provide ways for parents to submit papers and payments directly online. This is very helpful and is something you may want to ask when shopping for an organization.
Your Group Once students have been accepted and have paid 1st non-refundable deposit, you will know exactly who will be part of the group. Hold bi-weekly meetings before or after school. You may want to have them every month and as the trip gets closer, every other week, and then every week.
Meeting Topics RULES Famous artists, authors, etc. What to expect from your destination Food General Clothing geography/history/politics of Tips area Greetings DVDs on the location Other cultural differences Passports Weather Notarized travel form for What to bring students under 18 Voltage, outlets What to buy Money Travel safety Photos to show host family Useful/essential vocabulary Gift for host family Culture shock/jet lag Local chocolate Book on your city Local team gear
Reminders Remind all teachers of students attending and days they will be absent. Ask them to consider giving them assignments related to their trip to make up for missed work.
T-shirts Consider having a group T-shirt made to all wear while traveling on the plane and home. Consider ordering one for host brother/sister. Makes a great gift! (I use CustomInk.com online to design and order)
Passports Tell students not to take Passports with them when going to school, shopping etc. Students should make four copies of passports…leave one at home with parents, give each group leader a copy and keep a copy. You will need your actual passport (not a copy) when going to banks to exchange money
Communicating with home Many homes have WIFI, bigger cities with McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. will have WIFI You can buy a cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone Many countries have phone booth joints where you can go in and make long distance calls for very reasonable prices. There are phone apps for free chatting. WhatsApp
Blogging/Facebook You can find free sites for blogging, such as Blogspot.com. Create a group blog and add all members as administrators. Have students add pictures, stories. You can make a Facebook Page for your group and students can upload photos and comments.