Each year, McNicholas hosts foreign exchange students from all over the world. These students have stemmed from China, Mongolia, Japan, Germany, Sweden, and other countries.
McNicholas’ involvement with having foreign exchange students began when former principal, Mr. Jerry Couzins, made McNicholas a sister school to a high school in Japan. For five years, this high school sent McNick one or more students to study here, but had a Japanese tutor who traveled with them.
“About 11 years ago, we went through an immigration approval process because 9/11 had changed how schools were approved and how student visas were issued. Once we were on the approved list, Nacel International Private School Program contacted us and we have been accepting students through their agency ever since,” Director of Academic Services and Enrollment Ms. Lizanne Ingram said.
McNick currently works with two foreign exchange organizations: The Zource and Nacel. Multiple foreign exchange students have come from Nacel and one student has come to McNick through The Zource.
“We have worked with two different agencies and a third is also interested in working with us. Private families also contact us. Foreign students can search for approved high schools and find McNicholas on the list,” Ingram said.
According to nacelopendoor.org, Nacel interviews, screens, and tests potential teens. Once enrolled at McNick, Nacel then finds families for them to live with. The host families may or may not have children at McNick. Families that house the students receive a monthly stipend and provide them with a room, food, and transportation to and from school and other activities. The students pay their own tuition, and have their own health insurance and spending money.
McNick currently has five foreign exchange students. Next semester, McNick will also host another student named Iris from Shanghai, China.
Zhihao “Rex” Cao
Rex Cao found out about McNicholas from a former exchange student named Jiahui Guo. Rex transferred to McNick as a junior from Chengdu, China. He is a senior this year and plans to attend college in the United States. Cao was named McNick’s Homecoming King for 2011.
“The teachers and the environment here is great, but learning English has been tough. One thing I don’t like is not being able to play sports (because of OHSAA regulations),” Cao said.
Shuohua “Sam” Zou
Sam Zou is from Shanghai, China and first became interested in studying in the United States because of his parents. He came to the United States and began to attend McNick this past August and will leave in June to return home for the summer. Zou will continue his education at McNick next school year as a junior. He plans to apply to the University of Connecticut or Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) after graduating from high school.
“I like the students, and the teachers here are nice. English and religion are hard. My host mom helps me with English, and my host dad is really funny,” Zou said.
Yaling Wu is from Shanghai, China and is a senior at McNick. Wu arrived as a junior and is also going home this June. Wu will attend college in the U.S., where she has applied to many colleges but is still undecided.
“I like the teachers here. They are really good and nice. I am in the Science Honor Society. School was hard when I first came, but now it’s okay,” Wu said.
Enkhchimeg “Annie” Munkhsaikhan
Annie Munkhsaikhan is from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She came to McNick last year as a junior and is a senior this year. She plans on attending college in the U.S., but hasn’t decided where. Munkhsaikhan is a part of Cooking Club, Respect Life Club, and International Club and was a cheerleader last year.
“I like the teachers and the student body here. Learning English has been tough, though,” Munkhsaikhan said.
Hanye Li is from Ningbo, China and is currently a junior at McNick. Li came to the U.S. last August, will leave in June for the summer, and will come back to McNick for his senior year. Li plans on continuing his student career in the United States after graduation. Li has yet to join any clubs, but is currently working on being a part of McNick’s Ping Pong Club.
“The U.S. has one of the best education systems in the world, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise that I chose to be a foreign exchange student here. My goal is to get into one of the best colleges in the U. S.,” Li said.