In less than a month, the halls of Lowell High School will once again be filled with students. Among the throngs hurrying to class will be five students who have traveled farther then most to get there. They are the five exchange students who will be attending Lowell High School thanks to the Educatius Group.
“We have been partnered with Lowell High School since 2016, but we have been bringing kids to the greater Grand Rapids area since 2013,” says Lisa Scovel, regional manager of the group’s Great Lakes North division.
In total, Educatius Group brings 1,300 exchange students to the United States each year. For the 2018-2019 school year, 69 will be placed in schools throughout the greater Grand Rapids area. Five will come to Lowell High School, and those students hail from Turkey, Vietnam, Spain, Brazil and South Korea.
Scovel says there is still a need for host families and notes that it’s a rewarding experience to welcome in a student from another country. She speaks from experience, having hosted six students herself.
Vetted Students Matched with Local Families
Students placed by Educatius Group go through a vetting process and must submit a detailed application that includes a personal statement, photos, their interests and goals for the experience. A local coordinator reviews this information and works to find a host family that is a good match for the student.
Host families, meanwhile, have their own application and background check process. “During the host family application process, the local coordinator will talk with the family about their interests and their preferred region of the world,” Scoval explains. Once a student and family have been matched, they can begin communicating within ten days to get to know one another before the start of the school year.
“I have one family that choose their student in the beginning of March and has been in frequent contact,” Scoval says. “They already love her and are very excited for her arrival at the end of August.”
Typically, the commitment to host an exchange student runs for the entire school year, but there are also “Welcome Family” placements that last eight weeks. Host families are provided a monthly stipend and 24/7 support from a local coordinator to ensure a positive experience.
Benefits of Hosting an Exchange Student
Scoval is a firm believer in the benefits of hosting an exchange student. She’s opened her home to six different boys during the past four years. “We have learned new words from six different languages around the dinner table,” she says. Plus, her family has tried new foods, sampled other cultures’ traditions and had the opportunity to share their favorite aspects of their community with a new family member.
There’s no need to wait for an empty house before hosting an exchange student either. Scoval’s four children were 10, 8, 6 and 4 when the family started welcoming teens from around the world.
“As a host family, you are opening your home as a life changing experience for a teenager from another country and culture,” Scoval says. “In return, your world expands.”
For more information about hosting an exchange student for Lowell High School this fall, complete the form on the Educatius Group website or contact Lisa Scoval directly at (269) 601-2368 or [email protected]