ERDT/SHARE! Southwest Region

 

SHARE! High School Exchange Program

ERDT is a global educational non-profit foundation

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SHARE! HIGH SCHOOL EXCHANGE PROGRAM

 

WHAT IS ERDT/SHARE!?

ERDT/SHARE!, a nonprofit educational foundation, has been successfully involved in providing positive cross-cultural experiences since 1974. All of us at ERDT/SHARE! strongly believe that cross-cultural exchange is fundamental to creating understanding and tolerance in a world that grows smaller every day. We truly believe the future of our children rests on developing friendships with people from other countries. Our programs are designed as cultural experiences that develop understanding and knowledge though positive personal experiences. Many of the senior staff in the ERDT/SHARE! has lived, worked, and/or studied overseas. Therefore, we bring firsthand cross-cultural experience to the organization.
 

SHARE! HIGH SCHOOL EXCHANGE PROGRAM

Each year, the SHARE! High School Exchange Program selects and sponsors approximately 650 exchange students, between the ages of 15 and 18 years old, to experience life in the United States by living with American Host Families and attending local public high schools for one semester or a full academic year. The students come from a variety of countries in Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, Australia, North America (French-speaking Canada), and Central and South America. 

Our SHARE! students are some of the best and the brightest in their countries. Many go on to become political and business leaders in their communities and countries. The criteria used for student selection are their English and academic ability, maturity and flexibility, and interest in promoting cross-cultural understanding. Their host families do not consider them merely guests. Exchange students become family members and participate in family activities as well as in household chores. They are prepared to make real contributions to their host families and schools. Students arrive with ample clothing, pocket money to cover their personal expenses, and medical insurance. We have many heartwarming stories about the lifelong friendships and love that develop between exchange students and their host families. 

Potential host families come from all walks of life and backgrounds. Families participate in the program voluntarily and do not receive compensation for hosting. The local ERDT/SHARE! Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC) provides information about the program during an in-home visit with all family members present. Families of all types are eligible to become ERDT/SHARE! Host Families: families with small children or teens, those with no children, "empty nesters," and single parent families. Host families provide a bed and an extra place at the table for their exchange student. The local EPC helps families select a student and ensures a match between host family and student whose interests and lifestyle are compatible. 

Most American high schools believe the presence of international exchange students in their classrooms promotes understanding of other cultures and, at the same time, enables exchange students to learn about the United States. High schools must provide written permission for each exchange student they enroll. Policies for enrolling exchange students are determined by individual high schools or at the district level. Many schools have early enrollment deadlines and quotas for the number and nationality of exchange students enrolled every year. A place for an exchange student in a high school is not guaranteed unless prior arrangements have been made with appropriate school personnel. 

ERDT/SHARE! maintains a network of dedicated and knowledgeable Exchange Program Coordinators (EPCs) who work in local communities throughout the United States. We believe that the EPC is the key person in providing a quality experience for everyone involved in the exchange experience. Therefore, ERDT/SHARE! has established an EPC Certification Program to enable all EPCs to provide a quality program. EPCs interview and select qualified host families, provide orientations for host families and students, regularly monitor student progress, resolve conflicts, plan group gatherings, and provide continuing support for host families, students, and high schools.