We support our school coordinators every step of the way
Every teacher that starts a new program receives extensive in-person coaching from our Founders, Regional Directors and head office team and is supported every step of the way according to our Coordinator Guide. This guide has been developed based on our years of experience running student exchange programs, with more resources added every year as we keep learning and improving.
You will receive our full guide once your program is in motion, but a step-by-step timeline is provided below explaining what needs to happen & when along with some questions to consider before you begin.
Confirm which school you’ll be exchanging with.
Does your school already have a sister school in China? Are they willing to work with Alpha Exchange? Which stakeholders are involved in this relationship?
What are you looking for in a sister school in China? Is it just student exchange or do you have other goals or priorities?
Are you willing to host and travel? What size program are you looking at? Will it be annual or every other year? These will all play into which school we can pair you with.
Do you have a city or region preference for your partner school? Like the US, China is a geographically vast and highly diverse country so think about which city and region is a good match for yours.
Where do you want to go on your trip? Stick to the big cities or go deeper? Your trip will be designed around your exchange city and other destinations of your choice.
Proposal & Approval
Develop a program proposal and get it approved.
Does your school offer other international trips and/or exchange programs? What special policies or requirements does it have for hosting and/or trips?
What is the maximum number of students & duration you could host for? Our standard trips bring 15 students for 2 weeks.
We typically allocate a hosting budget to host families directly via stipends or travel credit. Will this be an issue for your school?
What’s the average price point for trips at your school? Consider how much your students would be willing to pay for a trip to China as this will affect potential itineraries.
What is the process for approving international trips or exchanges at your school? We have sample school committee proposals you can refer to, but you should check if your school has any specific templates or requirements.
SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER
Recruit your students to host and/or travel on the exchange.
We will provide a flyer, poster, video and powerpoint presentation you can use to promote the program.
You should consider presenting the opportunity to World History and/or Mandarin classes where relevant.
You should put the opportunity in the school bulletin and/or any relevant newsletters.
You should ask your Principal to help advertise through video or audio announcements to the whole school.
Our founders can come in as guest speakers to talk about China and help you promote the program in your classes.
You should schedule at least two interest meetings for students and parents (one before summer and one in fall). We can attend these meetings with you where possible.
Registration & Paring
October – November
Help your students to register in our ALPEX-IMS so we can pair them with their exchange partners.
We will provide registration guidelines and you should facilitate the process by reminding students to complete their tasks on time and direct any questions or issues to our team.
You should provide notes on host students for our reference in finalizing partner pairings where possible. E.g. any special quirks or considerations we need to bear in mind.
We will pair students in our ALPEX-IMS around Thanksgiving weekend. They will be able to view their partner’s profile and have at least 2 months to connect before meeting.
You should encourage your students to keep in contact with their partner ahead of arrival as this will make the orientation process much smoother when they arrive.
Prepare to Host
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER
Get everything and everyone ready for hosting.
You will be asked to provide course scheduling materials from your school registrar according to our Scheduling Guide so we can schedule time at school directly and save you the headaches.
We will provide detailed rosters of affected teachers for you to share at least a month before the group arrives in case we need to make any changes prior to arrival.
You will be asked to seek suitable volunteers to teach “Best Lessons” for our students during their preps or other free periods for additional compensation.
You should provide suggestions on group activities in your community that we can include in our planning. E.g. local museums, entertainment or other attractions.
You should provide a list of school events taking place during the hosting dates and help our team book necessary venues for group activities like the Exchange Gala.
You should help us recruit host families for the adult chaperones from the Chinese school.
You should circulate the Alpha Exchange Hosting Guide & Agreement to all host families to review and sign before our students arrive.
We will conduct background checks and virtual home visits via our ALPEX-IMS during registration, but you should check if your school district has other requirements for homestay programs.
We will ensure the Chinese students receive the immunizations required by your state, but you should let us know if your school nurse has other requirements.
We will help you lead one mandatory Hosting Orientation for all host students and families at least 2 weeks before the group arrives.
Prepare to Travel
Get everything and everyone ready to travel to China.
You should ensure students pay a nonrefundable $500 deposit to confirm their participation. Remaining payments will vary depending on their level of participation and will be automated online.
You should circulate the Alpha Exchange Travel Guide & Agreement to all students and families to review and sign at least 1 month prior to departure.
We will collect all the information we need to purchase flights during registration but you should help us track down supplementary materials as required.
We will share detailed Chinese visa application guidelines and can process these applications directly at an extra charge as required.
We will purchase travel medical insurance for your students as part of their trip cost and can help upgrade to different policies as required.
We will keep you in the loop on detailed trip arrangements based on the travel itinerary as they are confirmed.
Host in America
Host your Chinese exchange students and show them the best of America!
Our Trip Leaders will lead all aspects of the inbound program at your school from arrival to departure with support from you and chaperones from the Chinese school.
Our Trip Leaders will be on site throughout the program, including during school time and fixed office hours after school to supervise our students.
Our Trip Leaders will be on call 24/7 and manage any emergencies during the program, including medical, behavioral or other issues.
We will sponsor at least two structured group activities after school or over the weekend, with the remaining time to be arranged by host families according to the Hosting Guide & Agreement.
We will provide timely payment of any hosting expenses, including homestay stipends, school activities and classes arranged for our students where relevant.
Travel to China
Reunite with your Chinese exchange students in China a trip of a lifetime.
You will be responsible for leading your students from your point of origin to arrival back home after the trip.
Our Trip Leaders will meet you at your first port of entry in China and lead all aspects of the trip up until your flight home.
Our Trip Leaders will guide your student through our exchange curriculum throughout the trip according to our program design.
All transport, food and accommodation will be provided as outlined in your itinerary (no hidden costs!)
Sightseeing will be arranged in each city and led by bilingual Tour Guides with support from our Trip Leaders.
You should assist our Trip Leaders in ensuring smooth operation of the program and keep your parents in the loop.
Feedback & Evaluation
Show everyone what you learned and plan for next year.
Students will submit their Alpha Exchange projects to compete with other students from across China and the US where relevant.
You will help us distribute feedback surveys to all key stakeholders following both trips, including students, parents and colleague.
We will develop a report with our reflections on the program and recommendations for next year.