International Education Short-Term Opportunities
by Marlene Bylenga, International Education Coordinator ◊
At this time of the year, schools are receiving many inquiries from overseas and local agents regarding hosting short-term programs during the school year. Requests can be for programs as short as one day or as long as two months. The reason for these requests is that, for some countries, winter break takes place in January and February and parents would like to use this break to give their children an opportunity to experience living and studying in an English-speaking environment.
How do we respond to these requests?
Boards and administrators need to wrestle with the question of whether such programs enhance or take away from the overall program of the school. Although these programs can be financially beneficial to the school, the motivation for hosting such programs should not only be financial but also how well they fit into the overall vision of the school. A key question to ask is, “Are we doing this purely for financial reasons, or are we willing to use this opportunity to increase an awareness and appreciation within our student and parent body of the diversity of perspectives and cultures the Lord has created? “
One main thing to remember when negotiating with agents regarding these programs is that your school needs to be the one developing the format and content of the program. In other words, hosting schools need to own the program. Agents will come in with many suggestions and requests for a specific format; schools that have well-developed policies and a vision for what their short-term program will look like will be able to give clear answers to agents about the services their school is able to provide.
In addition to short-term programs during the school year, there are also many opportunities to run programs during the summer. Hosting these programs is an opportunity to use the facilities during the summer and also a way to give overseas students an opportunity to study in an English-speaking environment. Summer camps can provide teachers with summer employment and can also be great for professional development as they teach English Language Learners.
I encourage schools to proceed slowly and deliberately when considering short-term programs. Take the time to wrestle with the issues, and prayerfully consider whether or not hosting short-term students fits the overall vision of your school.
If you need more information regarding short-term programs, or an onsite consultation, please get in touch with me.