By Amanda Foust
Carmel High School has welcomed 20 foreign exchange students in the past five years through its partnership with the Rotary Club of Carmel, but one group that places international students says the school’s restrictive policies are leaving eager, local families without a student to host.
Representatives from International Experience, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that places exchange students with families across the U.S., recently told the Carmel Clay school board that they’ve been in touch with several local families who want to host an exchange student but can’t because the Rotary Club of Carmel, the only group allowed to place exchange students, doesn’t have enough students available.
“We have directed (interested families) to the local Rotary, and for the last three years, there have not been students available for these families to host,” said International Experience Regional Director Emily Rolin, who has hosted 10 international students.
Carmel Clay Schools Assistant Supt. of Curriculum Amy Dudley said CHS previously accepted exchange students from a variety of organizations. She said she discovered although the students were supposed to be proficient in communicating English, many were not, and the school was required to teach them.
“We found that accepting a large number of foreign exchange students who were not proficient in English was putting a strain on our ability to provide the current Carmel High School students needing English language development services as well as the foreign exchange students the instruction that was necessary,” Dudley stated.
So, CCS officials made the decision to work exclusively with the Rotary Club of Carmel and only accept students from its sister school in Japan, Seiko Gakuen School. They expected this move would simplify the process and not divert language resources from local students who need them.
Rotary Youth Exchange District 6560 Chairman Joseph Mitchell said he would like to see the club’s program expand in the future.
“We are deep into (CHS), and it’s a great relationship,” Mitchell said. “These are great students and great kids.”
Rolin said many of the students she has hosted have come back to visit again. She hopes that any family interested in hosting a student will get the chance.
“As a host parent, I would love to see any family who has the means to host to try it at least once,” Rolin said. “It can impact your life in ways you have never imagined.”
To learn more, contact the Rotary Club of Carmel at carmelrotary.com. Learn more about International Experience at usa.international-experience.net.