Student Exchange Program Looking for Host Families
By Doug Marrin, STN Reporters
As the school year winds down in our local schools, one group is already busy preparing for next year’s incoming students from around the globe.
Educatius (Latin for “better educated”) is an organization that coordinates living arrangements for international high school students visiting the United States, and they are looking for host families for this next school year.
“Educatius is one of many organizations in our community that help international students get visas to study in the U.S.,” explains Jyl Barnett Nolan, Educatius Coordinator for the Dexter area. “Our job is to help the student successfully live in the United States for a year. We help them find families in the communities where they will attend school, and we provide ongoing support through their school year.”
Nolan says that some 20 international students have signed up to attend Dexter and Chelsea High Schools next fall, and she is busy finding families who will host the kids while they are here. This year, Educatius placed nine students in Dexter and ten at Chelsea. It is an exciting time for the students who hail from Vietnam, South Korea, Italy, Spain, and Brazil.
“This is the time of year when students are getting ready to graduate,” she says. “Many of them will take home U.S. diplomas or at least the transcripts they need to get their certifications for graduation back home.”
Nolan explains that international students undergo a strict screening process to get into the program. They usually excel academically, and many are excited to join high school teams such as soccer and cheerleading or other clubs such as robotics. Host families are also screened to provide the best match for the visiting students.
One thing that sets Educatius apart from other exchange programs is that the international students come into the U.S. on an F1 Visa. Under the F1, the students have to apply and be accepted by the school to attend. “The school has a say in what’s happening,” says Nolan.
Also, under the F1 Visa, international students must pay the full tuition to go to the high school, an amount similar to the foundation allowance that the state pays school systems for each student.
Jyl and her husband are educators at Emerson School in Ann Arbor. Before coming to Ann Arbor, the couple worked at a school in Portugal and witnessed first-hand the trans-cultural relationships that education can foster.
“We hear again and again how much the students love their American teachers because they are so approachable and friendly,” says Jyl. “In other countries, it is a different type of relationship. Education is more of a business-type transaction.”
Photos: Courtesy of Jyl Barnett Nolan