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 Intensive English Study courses, summer language and cultural camps, language tutoring, academic year residencies, professional development, college prep studies, and training. When students become involved with long term stays, SPIRAL staff follows up each month to check in with students, host families, and schools to ensure a successful experience. Here is our mission: To promote high quality working relationships through educational opportunities and everyday authentic experiences.
What inspired the founding of the organization?
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 is emeritus faculty at the University of Vermont. He helped found of UVM’s China Project in 1986 and has maintained frequent contacts with Asia since that time. Dr. Emily Guo was born in Beijing and has lived and worked in the USA for more than 20 years teaching in American colleges. Together they have established partners in China and Thailand and, for the last 3 years, have organized successful home stays for about 500 Asian visitors.
What does the program involve? Who can participate?
Though we have several programs available, our two most common are culture camps and long-term stays. Each summer we offer an American culture and language camp for students who are middle and high school age. In groups of 30 students, they come to Vermont, New Hampshire, or Connecticut to spend 12 days. During those days, they receive English instruction in the mornings with about 15 American students who act as “ambassadors,” that is, as helpers in learning English. In the afternoons, all the students put the new learning to use as they take field trips in the community. In the evenings and on weekends, the Chinese visitors spend time with their American host families.
In a second program, SPIRAL places tuition-paying Chinese high school students in American schools 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 of their host family. They become part of the family and part of the community.
How did the organization end up in Burlington?
Dr. Hood makes his home in Burlington. SPIRAL has “grown up” here.
What impact has SPIRAL International had on the State of Vermont and the people that live there?
SPIRAL has sponsored hundreds of Chinese and Thai students to live and study in Vermont. They come with tremendous curiosity about American culture, American education, and American products available in stores. Their home stays have resulted in lifelong relationships with Americans that they never would have made otherwise.
What are the required materials for applying an American high school?
1. Grade Reports and English test scores of the past three years.
2. Two Recommendation letters from teachers.
3. Formal health report from a doctor and immunization records.
For more related information, please click here. To download application, please click here.
How are 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.