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Waco school anticipates arrival of international students in fall 2013

POSTED: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 1:51pm
UPDATED: Monday, February 18, 2013 - 10:38am

A Waco school is the newest of about 150 others involved in a highly acclaimed foreign exchange student program. Cambridge Institute selected the Vanguard School to begin hosting exchange students in the fall.

"How did you become interested in Vanguard College Preparatory School?" Colleen Mahoney, Director of Advancement for Vanguard asked an applicant, via Skype.

Mahoney is in the process of interviewing applicants for the school's new foreign exchange student program.

"Many Chinese students want to come to America for university experiences, and this high school and college preparatory environment will give them a better adjustment into that university level," said Mahoney.

The Cambridge Institution recently signed a contract with Vanguard to offer this unique opportunity, with the first group of at least ten students, in grades eight through ten, arriving fall 2013. Currently, the school has 150 students enrolled.

Vanguard officials say they’ve been looking into implementing a foreign exchange student program for years, and the partnership through Cambridge won’t cost them any money. Already, the school has two South African students and two Korean students enrolled. And, a Cambodian student is looking to enroll next year.

"It's pretty aggressive to be looking at ten to 12 students for next year. That's an eight to nine percent increase in population," said Head of School Bill Borg.

Borg feels the program will help both American and International students to be better prepared for going off to college. He says the school’s curriculum teaches students how to manage themselves, make decisions, prioritize, and not be afraid to ask questions.

Cambridge will find host families while Vanguard selects which students they want to come. Students will either come from China or the Republic of Korea.

Liu Jiachen, who will go by Sophia, is from China and wants to study more of the arts.

"Do you think you'll be able to incorporate your culture and share that with our students?" asked Mahoney.

"If I come to your school, I will sing songs for you," said Jiachen.

Jiachen has already been selected as a candidate to attend Vanguard in the fall.

"Her interest in Vanguard will allow her to work on her studies and her education pursuits. But also, enhance her education by being creative," said Mahoney.

More students will be interviewed in the coming months. And, they'll be offered to attend the school based on test scores, applications and interviews.

"Ok, have a nice day," said Jiachen as she ended her Skype interview with Mahoney.

"You too, get some rest," said Mahoney.

With bright and eager students, like Jiachen, school officials say the new program already looks promising.

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