ICES Cambodia Hosts the International High School Exchange Program in 2020
Chihok Gauy, the first ICES Cambodia’s high school exchange student, was able to fulfill his dream to study abroad in September 2020 when he finally got on the plane to Oklahoma, USA. He is currently living with the Evans family in Edmond, Oklahoma and attending Grade 11 at Deer Creek High School with his host siblings and a fellow exchange student from Spain.
International Cultural Exchange Services (ICES) was founded in 1991 by John J. Crist with the purpose to create positive exchange experiences for participants and help young people of all nationalities to embrace challenges and discover new opportunities that will help them dream and achieve more.
ICES offers the high school exchange program in which international students between the ages of 15-18 can apply to study at an accredited public or private high school in countries such as the U.S., UK, Australia, France, Switzerland to name a few and live with a host family for one year on an exchange visitor visa. With the MOU between AYC by ICES Thailand and ICES Cambodia in November 2019, the high school exchange program is now available for students in Cambodia.
The high school exchange program can be affordable. Exchange Visitor visa programs is one of the least expensive options for international students when attending high school in the country of choice. Due to the nature of the exchange program, students do not pay for tuition when attending public school and exchange visitor visa regulations do not allow for any form of financial compensation to the host family.
In comparison, for students on a regular study visa, host families or guardians are typically paid and students must pay tuition to any school, including public schools. The cost to do so in the U.S. can range between $8,000 to $15,000 for certain private schools not including boarding.
The international exchange program varies by country, but the average cost ranges from $11,000 to $25,000 a year. The fees include health insurance during the 10-month program and reviewing and assisting students with application for admission and visa, supervising students throughout the program, administrating English proficiency tests and interviews and holding orientations for all students prior to departure.
Students stay with volunteer host families and become part of the family. Students participating in the high school exchange program are placed with host families and attend whichever high school any children in their host family do or would attend. Host families are not only required to provide room and accommodation to students but also transportation to and from school as well as school activities. Most importantly, host families open their homes with genuine love and support that a young person needs. Screening of host families includes the application, reference checks and background checks for every member of the household aged 18 and older and an in-home interview by the ICES Local Coordinator.
“After two weeks of staying with my host family, I immediately became a part of them. My host family is really nice. Jay, my host dad, often tells me about Oklahoma and he gives me a lot of life lessons” Chihok says after staying with the Evans family for three weeks. I got to experience many fun things and learn about America.”
Eun Lee, the Senior International Relations Officer in charge of the exchange program at ICES Cambodia is a product of the high school exchange student herself. She stayed with the Reed family in 2003 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA and she holds her experience close to her heart. “I learned a lot about myself and how to appreciate and respect others by living with a host family. They treated me as their daughter and gave me the support I needed to become independent and confident” she added, “If you would like to broaden personal perspectives and fully immerse yourself in another culture or if you would like your child(ren) to be independent and prepared for the global workforce, the high school exchange program is a great opportunity.”
ICES Cambodia now accepts applicants for the high school exchange student program in the Fall Semester 2021-2022 for the US, UK, New Zealand. For more information, please contact 077-777-244 (Khmer), 077-811-777 (English) or visit ICES Cambodia’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ICES.GLOBAL/ or website www.icescambodia.com