Mt. Vernon High School International Exchange Program Seeking Host Families
It gives students a wide range of new ways to learn more about another country’s language, culture and communities. It also helps students develop life-long friendships and possible future job opportunities.
At Mt. Vernon High School, the school’s International Exchange Program has been helping students both at home and abroad.
“The program offers our high school students the opportunity to interact and become friends with students from all over the world,” says Jennifer Roland, a Social Studies teacher at Mt. Vernon High School and the placement coordinator for the school’s International Exchange Program.
For the 2018-19 school year, Roland noted that there are 11 kids coming to Mt. Vernon High School, seven of which chose Mt. Vernon as their school of choice out of every other high school in the U.S.
“I think that’s a testimony to all the great things Mt. Vernon is doing,” Roland says. “These seven kids, depending on their age, will graduate with a Mt. Vernon diploma. This program will also allow our students the opportunity to visit some of our sister schools that we are working hard to build relationships with, so not only are we bringing a cultural experience to the classroom and community, but we’re also working on expanding beyond the classroom.”
Roland adds that the Mt. Vernon Internationals Exchange Program is really in its infancy, and expanding the program takes time.
“I think the biggest piece of growth is that a typical one-year foreign exchange student gets placed wherever luck draws them,” Roland says. “With the expansion of our Bridge program this year, we now have foreign exchange students who have specifically chosen Mt. Vernon.”
Roland says that plans for the program this year are pretty simple.
“We really want to grow our program,” Roland says. “I think the best way for us to do that is to build relationships with our current host families by being a great resource for them in whatever capacity they need. We have many people in our community who I think are interested in potentially hosting but want to see it in practice before they dip their toe in the pool.”
This year, Mt. Vernon High School has students from Spain, Germany, Vietnam, China and Switzerland, to name a few.
Roland stressed that she enjoys seeing the foreign exchange students every day.
“We get to see these kiddos and check in on them,” Roland says. “We also each live no more than 20 minutes away from our (host) families but most of them are much closer. When you talk about the purposeful placements, our involvement in the school as teachers, as well as our proximity, I think it demonstrates the care and genuine desire for each family to have a successful year with their student.”
Roland believes the program is invaluable to not just the school’s culture but the school’s social studies classes as well.
“I had a visiting student from Germany, and when we gave him a day to talk about Germany, and the differences between Germany and the U.S., my kids learned so much,” Roland says. “We had honest conversations about patriotism and the shape of the world post World War II.”
Roland emphasized that The Mt. Vernon International Exchange Program is a special opportunity to bring the world to Mt. Vernon.
“We have the ability to bring kids a cultural experience they may have never had, and that’s not just for our students but for our exchange students as well,” Roland says. “I encourage everyone to seriously consider it, to ask questions and to find out how to become a part of our international exchange program.”
For more information, contact Roland at firstname.lastname@example.org.