What is SPIRAL International?
The letters in our name, SPIRAL, stand for what we offer: Special Programs for Intercultural Relationships and Learning. These programs take many forms. We offer summer language and cultural camps, placement of international middle and high school students in American schools, professional development, international educational travel and teacher licensure.
Our mission is to promote high quality educational opportunities and authentic cultural experiences.
Why was SPIRAL International founded?
In 2010 two educators, both with extensive experience with China, saw the growing desire of Chinese parents to send their children to school in the USA. Dr. Kenneth Hood, a professor emeritus at the University of Vermont (UVM), helped found UVM’s China Project in 1986 and has maintained ties with Asia since that time. Dr. Emily Guo was born in Beijing and has lived and worked in the USA for more than 30 years teaching in American colleges. Together they have established partnerships with schools in the USA, China, and other countries and have organized successful exchanges of students and teachers.
What does SPIRAL offer for international students?
SPIRAL has helped thousands of international students to come explore and study in the USA. We offer short-term American culture and language camps in Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Florida for international students of middle and high school age. Visiting students receive English instruction with the help of American student “ambassadors.” They get to put their new learning to use on field trips in the community. In the evenings and on weekends, the international visitors get to spend time with their American host families.
SPIRAL also places international high school students in American schools for long term home stays so that they can gain confidence in English with the goal of enrolling at an American university. They participate fully in the local high school and become a part of the host family and community.
What does SPIRAL offer for American students?
Each year, SPIRAL organizes educational tours for American students and adults to gain first-hand experience with another culture and local everyday life. Participants explore world famous cultural and historic sites and also visit schools to spend time with other students and teachers. Students at American schools that host international exchange students also benefit from enriching exposure to another culture.
What does SPIRAL offer for Teachers and School Administrators?
We offer programs for American teachers and school administrators to travel overseas to experience another culture and gain an understanding of a different educational system. We even help to hire American teachers and administrators to teach in China. In 2021 we will offer the Castleton MA in Education and Teacher Licensure Program. Chinese teachers will be able to take graduate classes at Castleton University in Vermont to learn educational theory and instructional approaches necessary to teach abroad and in the USA.
How are some SPIRAL camp participants’ experiences?
“When I came to here, I thought the American people are really friendly and kind. My host family was really good to us.” – Du Yuchen, a student from Chongqing.
“Compared to our government, where we can walk through the Statehouse, and meet a representative. They don’t know anything about their government; it’s very closed to them.” – Charlie Hoffert, a student at U-32.
“Before they came, I thought they were going to be totally different because they live in a different part of the world…But once you have the experience where two students actually get to stay with you, you have a whole different perspective on what it’s actually like, because you realize that we’re all just like one people.” -Ethan Fielder, a student at U-32.