History and Information on HGP's International Student Program
History - Program started in 2014
This year, HGP welcomes six international students. Five students are from China (2 freshmen; 3 sophomores) and one student is from Ukraine (a junior). These students will live with host families and spend the rest of their high school years and graduate from Holy Ghost Prep.
Starting this new program for international students at HGP is not part of a larger plan to grow our enrollment or make it more difficult for local students to come to the school.
We are 100% committed to our local schools and community partners. Many of these friendships span several decades and we will continue to work hard to strengthen these relationships and build new ones throughout the Philadelphia area. Diversity includes local families from vast backgrounds: geographically, economically and culturally. Holy Ghost Prep is fully committed to making HGP accessible to as many local families as possible.
International students help bring a global perspective into our school in a unique way. This program compliments an increasingly technological classroom with the important human factor that will better prepare our students for college and their careers.
About two years ago, we began investigating the possibility of accepting international students to Holy Ghost Prep. The initial conversation began with our friends from Duquesne University (as part of our already very strong relationship), but eventually grew to include a number of other schools and experts. International students attending day schools is part of growing trend in the United States to diversify student populations from outside of the normal geographic limitations. So we began to do our homework to understand if HGP would join the growing list of schools offering opportunities to students from outside of the United States.
The process is extremely complex, but in general terms includes partnering with an agency in the United States to manage international student applications, applying for recognition in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program through the Department of Homeland Security and becoming authorized to submit Form I-20 (F1) visa applications with the US State Department.
After completing this process last October, we signed an agreement with The Edu-Link, a New Jersey based agency that provides services to overseas students interested in attending schools in the US. The Edu-Link is a Middle States accredited company with over 30 years of experience bringing students to America. As an important added bonus, the regional coordinator for our area is Betty Patch. Betty lives in Yardley, taught at both St. Andrew School and Saint Basil’s Academy and is very familiar with Holy Ghost Prep.
So Why Did HGP Do This?
It seems sort of obvious to suggest that international students provide diversity in the classroom, but we were not satisfied with this simple assumption. Instead, we looked for data. Among the many resources and articles we read, there was an extremely detailed study completed by Duke University researchers that stood out. As reported in Bloomberg Businessweek in June 2013:
In an article published in the June issue of the Journal of International Students, David Jamieson-Drake and Jiali Luo (the director and assistant director of institutional research at Duke) draw on a survey of 5,676 U.S. alumni of four highly selective universities.
What the researchers found was remarkable. Not only did graduates who interacted with international students in college go on to acquire the skills you’d expect—speaking a foreign language and relating well to people of different cultures—they also developed a host of cognitive skills that are seemingly unrelated. Among them: the ability to question their own beliefs and values; acquire new skills and knowledge independently; formulate creative ideas; integrate ideas and information; achieve quantitative abilities; understand the role of science and technology in society; and gain in-depth knowledge in a specific field. In each case, graduates who reported high levels of interaction with international students reported “significantly higher levels of skill development” than those who reported little or no interaction…Encountering people with sharply different backgrounds and ideas produces “cognitive disequilibrium” that promotes intellectual growth.
As a college preparatory school, we immediately saw the benefits to our students. While it is easy to Google questions about other places, having the ability to interact with students from vastly different backgrounds provides a much more relevant advantage to students’ global perspectives. In classrooms filled with technology, the impact of the human equation becomes that much more significant.
What is the plan for the future?
We are only at the beginning of this new journey. Our immediate plan is to do a good job providing the necessary orientation and support to our six new students. This is all new to our community and before we start growing, we want to make sure we have a solid foundation to build on in the future.
There are all kinds of possibilities, including cultural exchanges, world-wide partnerships with other schools and potentially welcoming students from other Spiritan schools from around the world. For now, though, our plan is to make sure we don’t start the marathon before we even finish tying our shoes.
How can you help?
The best way everyone can help right now is to just understand why we began an international student program and explain it to those people you encounter who might ask about our program.
Perhaps you are interested in being a host family. This is an extremely important part of the program and can be a positive experience for the students and families. Our partner agency, The Edu-Link, will act as the student’s legal guardian, provides health insurance and will assist in the orientation of both the family and student. Host families are paid a monthly stipend for expenses related to hosting a student.
You might know a family that wants to send their son to the United States for high school. Together we can walk through the necessary steps to see if that is a possibility.
I encourage you to let us know if you have any questions about our international program. You can always call the admissions office at 215-639-0811 or email us at email@example.com