BG welcomes international students to pursue diplomas

At the beginning of the second semester, Bishop Guertin welcomed four new students from across the globe. Through UTP High Schools, BG has established a program for international students.

Juniors Ivy Chen and Rinvany Zhang of China, junior Thao Tran of Vietnam, and sophomore David Moon, of South Korea, have been busy adjusting to life at BG and with their host families.

UTP is a company that works with students in over 30 countries, including China, Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Mexico, Germany, Spain and Russia, offering them information about partner schools in the United States.

Currently, UTP is partnered with BG and four other U.S. schools. International students are offered the opportunity to stay in the U.S. for a semester, for a year or to be diploma students and graduate from their American high schools.

The four Guertin international students are planning to graduate from BG, three with the class of 2017 and one with the class of 2018. They have become involved with sports and clubs, including basketball, track, quiz bowl and chorus. They live with BG host families and take the same classes as other BG students, as well as participating in ESL classes.

Even though they are adapting quickly, the students agreed that BG is very different from what they are used to. Tran said in Vietnam, she would have 10 periods a day to BG’s six, and all four are accustomed to longer school days. They said completing their work in English has been a challenge but have enjoyed interacting with BG students and teachers.

"In China, there are no religious schools," added Chen, and Moon mentioned BG’s abundance of extracurricular activities as a big difference.

In the newly established UTP office, the students work with Adam Birke and Kylie Morris, who help find host families, teach ESL and advise the students.

"My favorite part of the job is the relationships that I have with the students," Morris said. "I love getting to know the personalities of each of the students and learning about all the things they do in school and at home with their host families."

Birke compared the process of selecting a U.S. high school to the college admission process. "Each student makes decision based on preferences like academic rigor, location, student body size, sports, clubs, music, drama, etc. We also choose to accept students based on their English level, grades, and extracurriculars, just like the college admissions process.

"Seeing students improve and adapt over the course of a school year is very rewarding," Birke said.

Holly Boivin is a sophomore at Bishop Guertin High School.