On all fronts, a swell of support for international students has become apparent. It’s comforting, especially after the publication of several accounts from international students on their experiences with the program in the Octagon’s final issue of 2016-17. We applaud those who have taken the time to carefully consider these students and have reacted.
Following the issue’s publication, several parents, students, faculty and alumni spoke both to the involved international students and to Octagon staffers. These people apologized, pledged to help or said that they intended to watch over international students.
On top of that, head of school Lee Thomsen has promised that the school plans to invigorate international student affairs. He added that Country Day wants to help these students and genuinely cares about their well-being, but the primary responsibility for the students lies with UC Educations (the third-party agency that organizes the students’ stays).
But not only the community has rightly responded to the stories of the international students; UC Educations has as well.
International students report that they are experiencing more visits by local representatives from UC Educations.
Furthermore, some students say that there have been changes to UC Educations’ policy that had required students to schedule flights from Sacramento International Airport (SMF) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to China. Now, students can charter buses, arrange Uber drivers or use their host families to get to SFO. These updates have made travel plans more convenient and efficient.
This increase in attention and responsiveness to problems from UC Educations has been greatly appreciated by the international students. They also report that they are now satisfied by their host families and have developed healthy relationships with their caretakers.
But despite these positive accounts, now is not the time to tune out the international students. We implore the community to keep the subject alive and well in the public sphere.
And while paying attention to the needs and issues of the international program is essential, SCDS families volunteering to host those students would further ensure the security and success of the program. Students have repeatedly stated that host families from Country Day are often the best caregivers because they can acclimate students to school culture.
Students have also asked that the problem of poor communication about rules be fixed through the creation of an informative website. When asked about UC Educations’ transportation policy, some students gave contradictory explanations.
A website that clearly explains protocol for any situation would eliminate this confusion as well as the constant requests for information from the students
These proposals are neither expensive nor time consuming. Though simple, they could greatly improve the lives of these international students.
While the energy and willingness to contribute that were shown following the release of the international students’ stories were touching, now is not the time to give up the ghost.