Exchange programs are open to all ASCA members; priority is given for tenure membership.
ASCA participates in a national program run by the American Cultural Exchange Service , a nonprofit organization contracted by the U.S. Department of State to promote global understanding through international educational exchange experiences.
Participants are interested in broadening their horizons, studying abroad, and learning more about a new culture.
Participants who come to Arlington become immersed in US culture, attend a local high school, participate in extracurricular activities, and explore their host community. Participants are hosted by and become a member of a carefully screened volunteer host family and have support from a Coordinator throughout their program.
Arlington students who participate in an overseas program get to experience a new culture, experience a new language, and explore a new area of the world. Even after a short time with their host families, students will have gained new cultural and linguistic understanding. Participants live with host families, who volunteer to open their homes to Arlington students because they are interested in learning more about different cultures. While overseas, participants have the support of a local team and Coordinator.
US participants that are interested in traveling abroad complete a thorough application process.
Providing experience in international affairs and citizen diplomacy to youth is a critical part of any sister city program. Activities often include student exchanges, virtual exchanges, and sports tournaments. These exchanges are often described by participants as “a life-changing experience,” and many current leaders in international affairs or diplomacy can trace their interest to their first sister city exchange. (Source: SCI)
Each sister city has different programs, itineraries, and costs. More information will be posted as they are scheduled
The High School Homestay Exchange program is an opportunity for ASCA to host a student from one of our sister cities for a year or semester of high school in Arlington to help a young person experience life and culture in the U.S. Students frequently report that their experiences are “life-changing”, and indeed they often make friendships that last a lifetime.
One of our sister cities chooses the high school student between the ages of 15 and 18 1/2 on the first day of school to participate.
The sponsoring sister city must have an International Coordinator to interview the student and determine if the student will be a good fit for the program, conduct language testing to ensure that the student has English proficiency necessary to complete a semester or year in an Arlington high school (English Language Test for International Students – ELTiS) and assist the student and their family with the required paperwork. All fees are paid by the exchange student’s family.
A U.S. State Department-designated sponsoring organization that is endorsed by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) ensures that ASCA’s Local Coordinator is certified by the Department of State and adheres closely to the rules and regulations that are in place to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of each HSHE student. The sponsoring organization processes the J-1 secondary school student visa. Once the sponsoring organization approves the student for the HSHE program, the Local Coordinator recruits a host family. The Local Coordinator works with the local school to ensure that there is a place for the student in the school. Once the HSHE student is in the United States, the Local Coordinator serves as the liaison with the high school, provides oversight and support to the exchange student and host family, and includes the student in ASCA activities as appropriate.
As per Arlington Public Schools Policy, ASCA has one seat per year for a student from one of our Sister Cities. The student may attend one of the three comprehensive high schools. (25-4.1 APS Foreign Exchange Student Programs). In the past we have been able to split the school year between 2 students, with each student staying in Arlington for one semester and not overlapping.
American Cultural Exchange Service is our sponsoring organization for the High School Homestay Exchange program. You can learn more about the High School Homestay program by visiting the Sister Cities International website at https://sistercities.org/HSHS
If you are interested in learning more about hosting a student or helping a student from one of our sister cities apply to come to Arlington, please contact Daphne Lathouras, Local Coordinator at [email protected].