For the past three years, North Cross School has seen a growing relationship with China. We continue to host a number of Chinese students in our upper school as well as welcoming increasing numbers of Chinese students to our summer programs. Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting a delegation of visiting educators from China, this visit coming on the heels of another delegation of Chinese visitors last October. Throw in my trip to China in December, and it becomes apparent that our relationship is becoming more involved.
International exchange students, and more specifically Chinese students, are not new to independent school campuses. Like our colleges and universities, international students have become a large part of student bodies as witnessed by the fact that education is now America’s fifth largest export. Two of our neighboring independent schools, VES and Carlisle have been actively involved with international schools for many years with as much as 11% of their student bodies being international.
What is more unique is the concept of teaching Chinese students in China rather than on our American campuses. But even this is not unusual as we have been able to use the experiences of several other independent schools currently teaching classes in China.
Aside from the financial benefits, the real value of an international program is that it establishes North Cross as a leader among independent schools in the area of global studies and international education. This relationship will assist in the expansion of our world languages program to include Mandarin, will allow our students to spend a semester in China while not falling behind in their studies, or to visit China for North Cross sponsored summer programs.
We have been in active negotiation with our Chinese partners for almost two years trying to find the perfect match and to date have not been able to conclude a deal. We will continue to be very careful in our approach, and while we recognize the positive financial and programmatic benefits, we will not rush into an agreement that would negatively impact our primary campus in Roanoke.
We will continue to enjoy our relationship with China as well as examining avenues for future growth, and I will you keep informed as things change. I will be available to answer any questions next week at the Upper School Director’s Coffee on Tuesday, March 31 at noon.