Studying abroad in high school can benefit students in a multitude of ways, but the decision to allow your child to participate can be a difficult one. There are numerous factors to consider when deciding whether or not NSLI-Y is an appropriate choice for your child. Below is information that may help guide your decision.
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The safety and well-being of our participants are the highest priorities of NSLI-Y administrators. NSLI-Y programs are structured to promote the safety and well-being of participants to the extent possible, and staff members actively prepare participants to make good decisions about their own safety and health while abroad. It is imperative that students and their natural families follow with the health and safety guidance provided by NSLI-Y implementing organizations. Further, students and families must understand and acknowledge that there is inherent risk in study abroad and overseas travel.
Living and studying abroad is a stressful and challenging experience for people of any age. Despite the excitement of exploring a new language and region of the world, exchange students frequently experience homesickness, loneliness, and other challenges as they adjust to their new environments. These stresses can be compounded by any existing physical or mental health issues or concerns at home.
NSLI-Y asks that students share personal information during the application process to help us plan for their success on the program. Personal health and family information will not be evaluated as part of the selection process, but that information is important for assigning the students to an appropriate program site. Relevant information includes, but is not limited to, a diagnosis of or treatment for an illness, a physical disability, a learning disability, or a dietary restriction. Recent traumatic experiences or significant changes in the student’s natural family, including serious illness, death, divorce, incarceration, or custodial changes, can also impact a student’s participation in an overseas program. In order to help NSLI-Y staff make appropriate decisions about your child’s experience on the NSLI-Y program, please inform us of these situations on the application or as soon as possible thereafter.
Semi-finalists will be required to submit a complete NSLI-Y Medical Evaluation Form in February 2018. The NSLI-Y Medical Evaluation Form will be reviewed by medical professionals, but will not be considered during the scholarship selection process. Medical review does not begin until a student is selected as a finalist or alternate and may take an extended period of time. Therefore, it is important that families respond to inquiries related to the medical review in a timely fashion. Results of the medical review will determine if a candidate meets medical requirements necessary for program placement and participation in NSLI-Y. As described in the Terms and Conditions, withholding relevant health information may be cause for disqualification or termination of the scholarship at a later date.
NSLI-Y participants are supported in the host country by established and reputable international exchange organizations. While organizational structures vary, field staff and trained volunteers in the host country support participants, host families, and natural parents. While on a NSLI-Y program, your child will have regular contact with a trained local coordinator or resident director who will provide additional support when necessary.
Students selected for a NSLI-Y scholarship receive round-trip travel between their home city to the pre-departure orientation and the overseas host program location; pre-departure, arrival, and end-of-stay orientations; tuition and related academic program costs including preparation, support, and testing; educational and cultural programming, including program travel; in-country support; room and board; visas for entrance and exit of the host country; and secondary medical benefits.
The scholarship does not cover costs associated with obtaining a valid U.S. passport, required medical examinations and immunizations for the NSLI-Y medical review or visa requirements, pocket money for personal items, or excess baggage fees.
NSLI-Y is funded by U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). ECA collaborates with American Councils for International Education and a number of experienced international exchange organizations in implementing NSLI-Y programs. Cities and regions for NSLI-Y programs are selected in cooperation with the U.S. embassies and consulates in the host locations. Embassy and consulate staff in each NSLI-Y location are invited to speak with the students about locality-specific safety and health issues. The Department of State and the implementing organizations continuously monitor current events in each of the NSLI-Y locations, and are in contact with U.S. embassies and missions abroad to ensure participant safety. All NSLI-Y students are registered with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which provides relevant safety and health alerts via text messages and ensures that the Embassy can quickly contact students if needed. Additional resources and information are available at travel.state.gov and studyabroad.state.gov
NSLI-Y provides a wide variety of preparatory materials and support for students going abroad. Preparation for the NSLI-Y experience begins in the spring, shortly after the finalists are selected. Participation in all orientation and pre-program language activities is mandatory.
All participants will be required to participate in pre-program language learning programs, as guided by their implementing organization, and complete any assignments and assessments in preparation for the program. Program orientation activities may include online resources, handbooks, conference calls, webinars, opportunities to speak with NSLI-Y alumni, and local events with other exchange students. Prior to departure, students attend an orientation in their departure city that will address how to stay healthy and safe while living in the host country.
All NSLI-Y programs feature homestays with host families that have been carefully screened and selected. Some programs place students in host families for the full program duration. Other programs place students in well-monitored dormitories and assign them to host families for weekends or for a segment of the program. All host families receive orientations and materials to sensitize them to cultural differences and to prepare them for the hosting experience. Resident directors or local coordinators provide support to participants and host families throughout the program.
With safety in mind, all participants are expected to follow NSLI-Y guidelines. These guidelines are outlined in the NSLI-Y Terms and Conditions, which is part of the application. NSLI-Y administrators strongly encourage parents/guardians to thoroughly review the NSLI-Y Terms and Conditions with their child before he or she applies to NSLI-Y and again if selected as a semi-finalist and finalist. Participants are also expected to follow the guidelines of their NSLI-Y implementing organization; these guidelines are often specific to the host country and/or host community.
NSLI-Y is prepared to respond to emergencies in the host countries. Every NSLI-Y implementing organization provides 24-hour assistance in the event of an emergency and facilitates appropriate medical treatment, including evacuation, if necessary. NSLI-Y consults regularly with the U.S. Department of State and external risk management organizations to monitor the safety of program participants in the host countries.
NSLI-Y participants are provided with secondary medical coverage to ensure that, in cases of emergency, students will be treated as soon as possible in the host country. NSLI-Y participants have the same coverage as other U.S. Department of State-funded exchange participants. Read more about the coverage on the ASPE website.
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