Future of exchange student programs uncertain amid virus

Ionia County

BELDING, Mich. (WOOD) — Despite all the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming school year, foreign exchange students are still planning on coming to West Michigan. 

International Student Exchange (ISE) has at least three students signed up to stay with host families in Belding. 

ISE program manager and Belding host parent Marvin Pease hopes this semester is smoother than the last, as his two exchange students had to return home when the pandemic hit.

One of those students, a rising senior from South Korea, has decided to return to Belding for the fall semester. 

However, Pease said things could change at any time per the federal government’s guidelines that state foreign exchange students cannot come to the U.S. to take an entirely online course of study.

“They cannot exclusively be online instruction because the students don’t come for that and can do that from their home,” Pease said.

Peace said when it comes down to it, the students are here to learn and experience the culture. He said sadly, the culture won’t be the same this year, but said it’s better than not having the students here.

“From the graduation, the sports, the drama everything about our high schools is different from the rest of the world and that’s what they’re coming for,” Pease said. “So, it’s going to be very modified (this year).”

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