A program that has brought dozens of students from China to study in Janesville is looking to do the same with another country with a huge population—India.

Officials from the Janesville International Education Program outlined their accomplishments and future plans at a meeting of the Janesville School Board on Tuesday night.

JIEP coordinator Mary Christiansen and international program director Robert Smiley discussed how the program has evolved this past year, when all the Chinese students attended classes virtually from China.

Smiley said 32 Chinese students studied in Janesville in 2019-20 and that 42 attended virtually during the pandemic year.

Smiley said 25 students would be in Janesville for the coming school year, while 35 more would attend classes virtually.

Students who travel to Janesville pay $28,000 for tuition, room and board. Virtual students pay $6,600, Smiley said.

Smiley said the district has a memorandum of understanding with school officials in India and has hopes of bringing students here in the near future.

The program also helped the district forge a virtual sister-school relationship between Janesville’s Jackson Elementary School and a school in Cali, Colombia, over the past year.

Also in the past year, college students from the Netherlands who are studying to be teachers did some virtual student-teaching in Janesville schools. Three student-teachers from the Netherlands will come to Janesville to work in the coming academic year.

Smiley and Christiansen have also made contacts with countries such as Vietnam, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia. They also hope to establish scholarships to allow for more travel opportunities.

Board members had positive comments about the program, including fond memories of hosting international students, but Michelle Haworth was concerned about having enough teaching staff to meet the international students’ needs.

Kevin Murray, a longtime critic of the program, had concerns about the health and safety of Janesville students and staff and asked about health protocols and vaccinations for Chinese students coming to Janesville this fall.

He also asked what the benefits were for Janesville.

“Why should I care about a Chinese student getting accepted into a college here?” Murray asked.

Out of the 153 students who have participated in the program so far, all were accepted to universities in the United States or other countries.


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