GREENSBURG — Greensburg native and GCHS social studies teacher Gary Bailey has been appointed International Exchange Coordinator for the region by “EF (Education First) – High School Exchange Year.”
Bailey will be providing area teens the opportunity to study abroad and students from other countries the opportunity to experience life here in the Midwest.
EF, a non-profit foreign exchange organization headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is committed to the concept of exploring the “Global Classroom” by bringing international exchange students between the ages of 15 and 18 to the United States for international academic and home-stay experiences.
Guided by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel, the organization paves the way for students in other countries to experience life as Americans do, sampling our culture while being protected and facilitated by host families.
Students from 16 different countries, including South America, Europe and parts of Asia, are interviewed and put through an exhaustive system of tests and checks by EF to see if they are an appropriate candidate for study abroad.
They are interviewed by teachers and required to complete multiple detailed applications, answering questions about family history, health and even questions about their personal grooming and eating habits. To be accepted by EF as an appropriate candidate, they are required to be proficient speaking, reading and writing English.
Once in the United States, each student attends “Welcome Days” or “EF High School Camp” to ease their transition into American life. Often with their host family in attendance, they are immersed in the English language and briefly familiarized with daily life as an American before being released to go home with their host family.
Each exchange student must have their own health coverage and insurance, and is expected to provide their own spending money, while host families are asked to provide three meals a day, a bed for the student, and a warm supportive family environment.
Being the largest government recognized company to take care of the exchange-student “experience,” EF also arranges domestic and foreign tours for secondary students.
EF owns the placement of foreign exchange students in our country from beginning to end. They choose the students and all personnel the students deal with. They brief each student on the laws and customs of their intended exchange country; they vet the host families to insure good student/family matches; they make all travel arrangements for each student, going to their host country and returning them to their native countries.
Even though there is a chain of command within EF to deal with emergencies some placements might face, their representatives in the United States serve as the primary contact for those students.
Bailey’s appointment entitles him to be that first point of contact.
“He was selected to represent EF because of his interest in foreign cultures and his enthusiasm and desire to become more active in the community,” said EF Regional Placement Manager for Indiana Teresa Metz.
Bailey is currently interviewing families in this area interested in sharing their lives with a young person from another country for the upcoming academic year.
“Families are welcome to call me at any time of the day or night. As a matter of fact, I have to make contact with the host families and the students as least once every 30 days,” said Bailey.
“We put these students through an exhaustive battery of tests,” said Metz. “We check their families, their histories, their health, whether or not they have mental issues like depression – because we are personally invested in providing each student a good placement and a positive experience as an exchange student in the United States.”
Bailey’s territory includes Decatur, Bartholomew, Rush, Ripley and Jennings County, and he will facilitate exchange students for all schools in any of those counties.
Bailey can be reached locally at 812-614-1234 and EF headquarters can be reached at 800-447-4273. The EF website is efexchangeyear.org.