Community Voices: Resources for K-12 DSOs
Community Voices is a Study in the States guest blog series where we invite members of the international student community to share their insights with our audience. If you have an interest in contributing to our blog, send us an email at SEVPCommunications@ice.dhs.gov.
Stephanie Kim is a designated school official (DSO) and the International Student Coordinator at Mid-Pacific Institute, a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school in Honolulu, Hawaii. Below, Ms. Kim shares helpful resources for kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) DSOs.
International Education Week
International Education Week (IEW), Nov. 12-16, 2018, is a great way to recognize the international students on your campus while promoting the benefits of international education and exchange to faculty, staff and students. For example, at my school during past IEWs, we have hosted an international faculty panel, international student art gallery, international-themed chapels, collaborative cultural classes, social media campaigns, cross-cultural workshops and more.
International students feel empowered when you give them the chance to share their own cultures with their classmates and younger students. Celebrating international education also brings awareness and understanding of cultural differences, creating stronger, close-knit communities. Fostering an inclusive environment is especially important given that the K-12 international student population is the fastest growing user group in the Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
Preparing K-12 Students for College
If an international student is planning to return to their native country after graduation, make sure that the student knows that they have 60 days to leave the United States. However, if your international students are applying to U.S. colleges or universities, share SEVP’s Guide to Studying in the States and School Search tool with them.
If a student does decide to attend a U.S. college or university, explain the SEVIS record transfer process and help the student complete any transfer paperwork after you receive a copy of their official college acceptance letter. I always keep track of when a student’s visa expires and remind them to renew their visa as needed so that the transfer process to a U.S. college or university is as smooth as possible. Also, make sure that you have another means of contacting seniors who will be attending a U.S. college or university in case they do not check their school emails after they graduate.
K-12 DSOs play a very important role in the lifecycle of an international student. Don’t miss these additional resources for K-12 DSOs: