Strangers in a New Land: Rural School Personnel’s Perceptions of the Implementation of an International Student Program

Caryn A Lasky (Coe-Brown Northwood Academy)


Many high schools in the northeastern United States have suffered from declining enrollment due to a declining population of school-age children in the region. Administrators, counselors and teachers perceive many impacts of the implementation of an international student program at a rural high school. This qualitative case study reveals that the rural high school’s unique nature impacts international student programs, international students influence both school culture and programming, and international students suffer from isolation. School leaders would benefit from considerations in the form of professional development both prior to implementation of an international student program and ongoing throughout its duration. It is important for schools to find ways to respectfully honor student cultures and optimize learning experiences. School leaders would be wise to determine desired size of international student programs and make efforts accordingly to achieve that size for optimal effectiveness for the benefit of both host and international students. Implications and recommendations for future research include further exploration of the perceived experiences of European and Chinese international students, understanding the unique nature of rural high schools and international student experiences, and examination of school practices.


International Student Program; School Personnel Perceptions; Rural High Schools; Host Group; Interactive Acculturation Model

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