Maumee Valley seeks more international studentsWritten by Evan Brune | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Maumee Valley Country Day School is about to get a whole lot more international.
The private school opened its new student dorm, the Dayal House, in late May at a total cost of $1.5 million. The dorm is part of a larger plan by the school to bolster its international student program.
“The goal is to have 20 percent of the student population from abroad,” said Gary Boehm, head of school.
MVCDS began its international student program with sister schools in Sweden, Ecuador and China.
“Once we opened that door, we found ourselves with a significant Chinese student population, and we thought, ‘Well, there’s got to be other kids around the world who are interested in coming here,’” Boehm said.
During the 2012-13 school year, the school hosted 33 international students from six countries.
“Most international students choose to come to the U.S. for several reasons: to increase their language ability and to seek out cultural opportunities,” said Michael House, associate director of admissions. “For the most part, they are looking to come here and ultimately graduate here.”
MVCDS plans to host 35 international students, which makes up 15 percent of its upper school student population, in the 2013-14 school year.
“This year, we have students from China, Moldova, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Spain, so we have students representing all different areas of the world,” House said.
House said the growing number of international students meant there was a shortage of available housing.
“As we were looking to grow our program, we were starting to get 25 or 30 [international] students, and at that point, you’re really starting to ask a lot of your host families,” House said. “We really needed to start looking at other options.”
Other issues were arising as well, Boehm said.
“There were issues with having less control, not knowing the families as well. Some didn’t have connections with the school. Sometimes that worked out well, sometimes not so well,” Boehm said. “We were hearing from families abroad that they were looking for dorms, not homesteads.”
House said many international students looking to study in the United States are looking for boarding schools.
“Also, if they’re here, we can really mold their experience,” he said.
Despite these concerns, Boehm said the plan is to require international students spend at least one year at a host family’s home.
“Right now, students live in homesteads, and we want to keep homesteads as part of the program,” Boehm said. “It’s an important part of the immersion experience.”
The new dorm will also host domestic students who currently commute to the school, as well as others who express a desire to stay in the dorm. Boehm said the plan is to have half of the dorm residents be domestic students.
“In fact, we do have one local student who will be staying there who wanted a dorm experience,” Boehm said. “We are hopeful that we can attract domestic students as well as international students.”
Boehm said residents have already begun to move into the new building.
“The dorm parents are living there, the Spanish teacher and her husband and the director of student life and her husband and two children,” he said. “The dorm’s brand new and it’s beautiful. They love it. We have a beautiful 75-acre campus, so it couldn’t be a more natural, comfortable environment.”
“It’s very much designed to look and feel like a home,” House said.
Boehm said the dorm will also host a two-to-three-week summer English class as a second language (ESL) program.
“We might build a second one as we watch and learn from this one, but that’s three to five years down the road,” Boehm said.
Despite the school’s successes at drawing international students, Boehm said there are still challenges to overcome.
“The higher high school athletic association does not allow out-of-state students in their league,” Boehm said. “We just lost a student this year because he was an avid soccer player. It’s an impediment to our growth. It’s a disincentive for people to send their kids to study here.”