Local High School Expands International Program

DES MOINES, Iowa – Grand View Christian School has an office located in Beijing for its international students.

The office started in 2015 when Superintendent Dick McWilliams and his wife traveled to China.

“We had a student, formerly at our school, from China. She stayed at our home for two years, and through that experience her mother back in China thought it would be great if she could send more students to our school,” McWilliams said.

McWilliams said the former student is currently a junior at the University of Minnesota.

The program is for high school students.

Grand View Christian School currently has 11 international students. Of those, seven are from China. There is also one student each from Mexico, South Korea, Turkey, and Mali.

“We started that program, based upon the fact that we had somebody in China that was interested in sending more students,” McWilliams said.

For a student to qualify for the international program, he or she needs to pass an English literacy test and conduct a Skype interview.

Once accepted, the school will find a host family that the student will stay at.

McWilliams said many host families travel abroad with the international student to see where he or she is from.

“There is a reciprocation, where you’ve got the host family here providing for the international student and then you’ve got the international student saying, ‘Hey I’d like for you to come visit.’ We’ve had families that have been brought over to different countries and experience the culture,” McWilliams said.

Jack Lin is a sophomore, and this is his first year in the program. He said what surprised him the most was how hands on the teachers are.

“It really amazed me how the teachers here, every one of them, they want the student to succeed. They help me. They are glad to talk to me after class. They are glad to help me with a question I don’t know on the homework. This is something that I don’t experience much back in China,” Lin said.

Jack’s brother, Daniel Lin, said that school is more laid back in the states.

“I feel like I am less stressed out. I am not as stressed in here. I can just study, and just be me and do all of the work that I can do,” Daniel Lin said.

McWilliams said he hopes to have 10 percent of the school international. The school currently has 130 students at the high school level.