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Traverse City public schools seeking more international students

Sharon Drummond

Traverse City public schools are getting ready to welcome about 55  students from Dalian, China, in January. They will attend high school for two weeks and stay with local families.

In May, about 25 Traverse City high schoolers will do the same in China at a high school attached to Dalian University of Technology.

This is the second year for the short-term exchange. It fits with Traverse City Area Public Schools' goal of giving its students more international exposure,  according to Superintendent Steve Cousins.  The district is also interested in having more full-time foreign students.

Thirteen of last year's Chinese short-term exchange students returned to Traverse City this year as full-time high school juniors. Cousins anticipates that an additional 20 to 30  Chinese students will enroll full-time next year as a result of  a new agreement the district made with the Beijing-based Weiming Education Group.

Cousins said the district wants 5% to 7.5% of their high school students to be from foreign countries.  

He said a key goal is to develop global competence in their students.  He said it is important that "our graduates be able to learn and adapt and live and work in  a global economy and in a global society."

"Our goal is to increase the international student population to the point that it would be very likely during their junior and senior year that our students would have an opportunity to develop a relationship and interact with someone from another country," he explained.

He said the district will charge the visiting students tuition. It will be enough to cover the average cost of a high school student's education plus the special administrative costs associated with the effort, such as assisting with housing arrangements.

Traverse City Area Public Schools will select the students based on their academic records, English skills, and interviews.

Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom