Author: Robert Creenan
We hear plenty of stories about college students spending part of their education in a foreign country. It’s not that often we hear about high school students spending their entire vacation overseas. Yet that’s what some kids from China, Korea, and Japan are doing as part of the GPHomestay program.
The program allows foreign students to study at American high schools while living with a host family. There are currently about 300 partner schools GPHomestay works with. Buffalo-area schools include Canisius High School, Nichols High School, and Buffalo Seminary.
Helen Bowman is one of the coordinators for the students once they arrive in America. She’s also in charge of finding local host families for these students. “We would put an ad out explaining what we want out of a host family,” she says. “We then get online applications for that and a coordinator will call them to let them know if they’re eligible or not. Then I’ll go do a background check on the family to see if the residence is suitable.”
One of the eight students who currently goes to Canisius High School is Daniel Guan, a native of Quindao, located in China’s Shandong Province between the major metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai. He’s in 9th grade, and his host family lives in Derby. The family is very active in Canisius’s workings since they have a son who also attends.
What’s interesting about this program is that students are expected to spend their entire high school careers here in America, with the end goal of going to an American College. “The rules in China are very different, because you have to spend your entire high school (career) there to go to a Chinese college,” Bowman said. “If you go to an American high school, you can’t go back to China to attend college.”
The rules in China are very different, because you have to spend your entire high school (career) there to go to a Chinese college. If you go to an American high school, you can’t go back to China to attend college.
GPHomestay runs plenty of programs for these students to acclimate themselves better to America. “Students get an orientation and training when they arrive,” Bowman said. “I do a monthly check in with the students either over the phone or in person. We usually do a quarterly event where we go to do something fun, like going out somewhere to eat or going to a park.”
Daniel has liked going to Canisius so far; mainly that he has more free time after school. “Back in China, school would go to very late at night, around 8 pm,” Daniel says. “I like the small town aspects, the Jesuit program, it has all the AP courses I want, and there’s a unique community here.” Although Daniel hasn’t gone into the college process yet, he wants to go to either NYU, Georgetown, or the University of California at Berkley for Business. He does get homesick at times, but he manages to Skype his family on a regular basis.