Student exchange program provides opportunities

Lily Berggoetz, Reporter

For over 50 years, SHS has been accepting students from places around the world such as Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan. The school has been partnering with the student exchange program, Foreign Links Around the World, or F.L.A.G.

The program provides opportunities for students to discover different cultures first hand. There are many factors that go into the program, including living arrangements, applications and school requirements.  

We review every application, and we do have a formal process,” Allison Gowan, F.L.A.G.’s communication consultant said, “Our manager for that program hosts Skype interviews or phone call interviews before the student comes here.”

If students gets approved,  they stay with host families, where they will live for the duration of their time studying abroad. According to Gowan, F.L.A.G. has workers in almost every state. The state workers are assigned to a student, and they oversee how everything is going with them and the family.

There are local coordinators that are responsible for managing and taking care of any problems the host families have. They set up host family interviews and criminal background checks, as well as providing support for the host families and the student.

Students who study abroad also have to make sure they’ve got satisfactory grades for their credits to be on track so they can graduate on time. The process of this varies with the country the student is from. Gowan explained that some students are responsible for bringing their U.S. transcripts back to their home country while F.L.A.G. is responsible for others.

While the program is responsible for different student’s transcripts around the country, SHS Spanish teacher Patricia O’Connor organizes and runs the foreign exchange program at the school. She believes it allows students to get a taste of other lifestyles.

According to O’Connor, there are exchange programs to most countries around the world.

We ask that our (SHS exchange students) be fairly fluent in English so they can read the material and do their work without a lot of outside help,” O’Connor said.

The foreign exchange program gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a new culture and learn at the same time. Gowan believes the program is very beneficial.

“(It has changed) our international students perspective, which ultimately will help the world get in a better place,” Gowan said.