EPC Training #1: Host Family Recruitment & Student Placement
Part 2: Prepare & Establish Yourself
Get to know your Team Leader Because of the thousands of people involved worldwide in our program, the chain of communication is very important to the smooth operation of our program. Please be sure you know your Team Leader and use them as your primary contact with all issues. If you have an Area Coordinator, that person is your Team Leader. If not, your Team Leader is a Regional Administrator. If you don’t have an Area Coordinator or Regional Administrator, your Team Leader is an Associate Director in the SHARE! National Office.
Keep your Team Leader's info handy on your refrigerator, bulletin board or desk - you can print an info sheet here.
Familiarize yourself these important facts about SHARE! We could go on and on about the SHARE! program - our history, the other programs we offer, how great we are, etc. etc. etc., but here are the top 5 things you should know!
The SHARE! High School Exchange Program is one of the programs offered by Educational Resource Development Trust (ERDT), an non-profit foundation that was established in 1974, is based in Santa Monica, CA, and offers a variety of international programs.
The U.S. Department of State offers international high schoolers the opportunity to attend high schools in the U.S. and live with volunteer host families on a visa called J-1, a cultural exchange visa designed to promote understanding between countries. The Department of State has designated SHARE! as a sponsor of this program. Sponsors are primarily responsible for ensuring that students are safe and comfortable, that they are pursuing the goals of their visa, and that they are following the program guidelines.
SHARE! has a worldwide network of partner agents in different countries. Prospective students sign up to be exchange students with the agent in their home country. These agents help the students fill out applications, screen them to ensure they are good potential exchange students, and provide them with a pre-arrival orientation. Students arrive in the U.S. with medical insurance and spending money, and look forward to living the "real" American lifestyle and attending a local public high school.
Host families volunteer to provide their students with a room (alone or shared with a sibling of the same gender, in separate beds), a space to study, meals, and a chance to become a member of the family. They do this not for monetary compensation, but out of a genuine desire to share cultural understanding with a young person from overseas.
SHARE! establishes local Exchange Program Coordinators (EPCs) in each community where our students live (that's you!). EPCs find and screen host families, match them with students, and get permission from the local high school to enroll the student. There are about 200 SHARE! EPCs in the U.S.
Connect with your local schools Different schools have different policies and procedures regarding exchange students. Be sure to stay as up-to-date as possible with the schools in your area. Work with your Team Leader to determine which high school districts you should focus on. Give each one a call, ask to speak with the person responsible for accepting exchange students. Introduce yourself as the new Exchange Program Coordinator in the area, and tell them a little about SHARE! Tell them that you're hoping to be able to bring some exchange students to their school, and ask if there is anything specific you should know. (We usually don't ask if they have a "policy," because if they do not, they might feel that they need to develop a policy, and that could restrict your placements at their school).
It's fine if they ask questions you don't know the answer to, just tell them, "That's a great question - I'm going to find out and give you a call back!"
Try to keep records on each school, so that you know where to focus your marketing. One method is to print one High School Information Sheet for each school and keep them in a binder.