Foreign Students Enhance Global Outlook at U.S. High School (page 2)
Every year, high schools across the United States welcome foreign-exchange students into their classrooms, but at Washington International School (WIS), the student body itself is a microcosm of the global community -- and WIS exchange students further enhance the cosmopolitan mix.
An independent, private institution that educates children from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, WIS draws “about 50 percent” of its students from “families that are longtime residents of the Washington area,” according to Kate Meenan-Waugh, director of global initiatives and service learning at WIS. The rest of the students mostly are the children of diplomats or World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank officials, she told USINFO.
Students, parents and faculty at WIS represent a total of 99 countries, so the students are accustomed to meeting and interacting with people of different backgrounds, said Meenan-Waugh. WIS also brings in two foreign-exchange students annually, recruited through the American Secondary Schools for International Schools and Teachers (ASSIST) program.
ASSIST, a nonprofit educational and cultural exchange organization, accepts applications from outstanding students all over the world, “and we request students from certain regions that are not usually represented” at WIS, Meenan-Waugh said. For the 2007-2008 academic year, WIS has enrolled foreign-exchange students from Moldova and China.
Interplay of Cultures and Traditions
WIS exchange students enter the 11th grade when they arrive, and they live with host families whose children attend the school. Typically, the exchange students have not visited the United States before, so their WIS experience is usually their introduction to American life and the U.S. education system, Meenan-Waugh said.
“Most of them adjust very well,” she said. “They come with a certain eagerness; they’re open to new environments and experiences.” Because they are academically accomplished and can speak English, “they hit the ground running” once they begin classes at WIS, she observed. The exchange students follow the same curriculum as their WIS peers, and they contribute to the lively interplay of cultures, traditions and ideas for which the school is known.
Reprinted with the permission of the Bureau of International Information Programs.
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