orld Educational Services (WES) Foundation is a non-profit institution founded in 1984. The WES Foundation's Academic Exchange Program is designated by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), as a Teenage Exchange Visitor Program authorized under the Fulbright-Hays Act. The WES Academic Exchange Program is designed for academically qualified high school students ages 15 to 17 who wish to experience American culture and customs by living with a host family and attending high school in the U.S. for an academic year or semester. At the same time that s/he is learning about the American way of life, the exchange student shares his/her culture with the host family, the host school, and the host community. During this experience, students increase fluency in English, which helps open new academic and professional opportunities for them.
WES PROGRAM DATES - The exchange student may participate in the academic year (10-month) program, or in the academic semester (5-month) program. The academic year program begins mid-August. Semester programs begin in mid-August and mid-January. Applications are due in the WES office on the third Friday in March for programs beginning in August; and the first Friday in September for the January program.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS - Academic Exchange Program students are carefully selected from a large pool of applicants. Applicants must be 15 to 17 years old and be in good academic standing to be eligible to participate in the WES Program. The student's ability to act as an informal ambassador of his/her home country is of great importance to the ultimate success of the program. The following are the specific eligibility requirements:
English Level: Applicants are required to take the Secondary Level English Proficiency (SLEP) Test and score a minimum 62% Scaled Score. Applicants who fail to meet this requirement are disqualified from the program.
Academic Record: WES Exchange Students are expected to be in good academic standing, with no failing grades. Applicants who have failed a course are not qualified to apply to the WES Exchange Programs.
Personal Interview: Students are interviewed by the WES Overseas Representative and evaluated for maturity and the ability to represent his/her country as an informal cultural ambassador.
Teachers' Recommendations: Two teachers' recommendations, one of these from the English Teacher, are required. These recommendations should include specific areas of academic or leadership accomplishments which would make the candidate a good exchange student.
Spending Money: WES requires all students to have adequate spending money for the duration of the program. WES recommends a minimum of U.S. $200.00 and no more than U.S. $300.00 per month for the student's personal use for entertainment, travel, and to pay for his/her daily expenses.
Airline Ticket: WES students are required to have a round trip ticket valid for the duration of the program.
THE PROGRAM INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING -
Public High School: The WES Academic Exchange Program enrolls participants in the local public high school. WES students are responsible for meeting the educational requirements of the local high school and the WES Academic Program. They are expected to do the best academic work possible and should take advantage of the rich extracurricular activities available at the school.
The Host Family: WES selects host families who voluntarily open their homes to the exchange student. Since the exchange student is a long way from his or her native home, the host family's role is to provide a new home. This role requires enthusiasm for sharing one's daily life in addition to providing a nurturing environment in which a student learns about the host culture and language. WES students are expected to follow their host family rules and codes of behavior. For example, in the U.S., family members are expected to clean up after themselves and to share chores. These chores may include such things as dishwashing, babysitting, vacuuming, yard work, and doing laundry. Students are expected to share these common experiences. In other words, students should not be expected to do more or less than other family members.
The Local Coordinator: The WES Local Coordinator is responsible for the recruitment and screening of host families and the placement of students with those families. The Local Coordinator is responsible for supervising the student during the program. S/he works with the high school counselor to monitor the student's academic progress and provides quarterly reports to WES headquarters. The reports include information about academic progress as well as social adjustment in the family and community.
Orientations: WES Academic Exchange Program students and their biological parents receive program orientation prior to the students' departure from the home country. Participants also receive orientation soon after arrival in the host country.
WES PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION - WES staff are responsible for the general administration of the Academic Exchange Program. Specific areas of responsibility are:
Student Recruitment, Selection, and Orientation: Students are recruited by WES Overseas Representatives. Student selection is based on information contained in the student application, on English language test results (SLEP Test), teachers' recommendations and a personal interview.
Immigration: The WES headquarters ensures that all immigration requirements for lawful admission to the United States are met. WES issues form IAP-66 to the students, which enables them to apply for the Exchange Visitor (J-1) Visa.
Emergencies: If there is an emergency in the home country, it is likely that the student will be the first to know about it. In this case, the host family must immediately contact the WES Local Coordinator for assistance and advice. If the emergency requires it, an immediate flight home will be arranged. In situations involving serious accident, injury, illness, or conflict with the law, school, or host family, the WES Coordinator immediately informs the WES Central Office.
Health Insurance: The WES headquarters maintains no-limit health insurance for all WES Academic Exchange Program students and distributes claim forms to Local WESCoordinators, host families and students.
Medical Release: All WES students have a medical release signed by their parents, so that host families and/or program staff will be able to authorize necessary medical treatment.