Minutes of ISSE World Conference 2016: Guayaquil, Ecuador

Minutes of ISSE World Conference 2016: Guayaquil, Ecuador

Thanks to Norberto, Basil, Paola, and Karin, this conference ran smoothly and efficiently; it also gave us a look at scenery, food, customs, and traditions of Ecuador.   The Welcome Dinner was held at the U.S. consulate, and Patricia and her family hosted us all so graciously.

Day 1 took us to Jefferson’s primary Campus, where we were welcomed by all the children with the presentation of all our flags, as well as a series of traditional dances by each grade level. The Salinas children greeted us with a wonderful ceremony the next day.

Joanna and Adam of Australia led the meetings, as representatives of the country last hosting the conference in 2014.

Agenda items:

*Medical and travel insurance:

Bottom line: traveling representatives MUST have coverage of one sort or another.   Medical problems occurring overseas can be extremely expensive, and it is not the host’s responsibility to cover these. Some families have coverage through their family policies, but other issues that may occur lead us to recommend that ALL traveling students acquire actual travel insurance at the time they purchase airline tickets. Because the cost of travel insurance is based on the cost of the trip, it’s very affordable for us….. our whole trip is only the cost of the airfare and perhaps a side-trip. It covers a wealth of issues as well as medical. Proof of insurance should be given to the trip organizer immediately after airfare is purchased. Star Insurance and EF Assist card-international are 2 companies presently being used. Some companies have acceptable no-pay hospitals; some must be paid ahead and reimbursed. As soon as the organizer has this information, it should be sent to the host country…. No less than two weeks. Chaperone hint: check the list and location of hospitals in the area to which you’ll travel.

*Length of exchanges:

Bottom line: three weeks are necessary to experience the full value of an ISSE exchange. As example, it is not acceptable to stay 2 weeks and then go to Disneyland. A valid explanation is necessary and some negotiation is possible for exceptions. Because it really does take three weeks to get the full benefit of this program, there should be very few exceptions, and they must be agreed upon before other plans are made. Funding is occasionally a reason to stay a bit less, and a number of schools have designed their program to happen over vacation weeks at the home school.

*Selection process-family diversity-student matching:

Bottom line: Design a thoughtful process for choosing the children who travel, and educate your chaperone thoroughly. Your chaperones MUST know their children well. All people involved in the exchange (Children, hosts, and chaperones) must be knowledgeable of the program and what their individual responsibilities are. Adaptability is essential; get familiar with the new culture and be ready to adapt. One suggestion was to have a committee at school to run by all ideas and coordinate what happens. (One family buys a $300.00 gift for their visitor. One takes a flight to a different city. Over-the-top ideas like these can be quickly nixed if heard by a thoughtful committee.) Each delegation must take a gift from their school to the host school. Each delegate should take small family gifts directly to their hosts. Train your chaperones well; this is a working position and it does not become a holiday upon arrival.

*Exchange fees:

Fees remain the same, but are still confusing to some. The straightforward fees are $150 for a full exchange, $75 for a half exchange (IF THE OTHER SCHOOL CANCELLED ON YOU).   The school cancelling any part of the exchange pays THE FULL FEE.   Membership fee: $25. This fee is INCLUDED in any exchange fee you pay.   If a school cancels totally for the year (no visit, no host) they pay the full penalty fee of $150.   Please advise Bev and Sue immediately so that Bev can try to get you another exchange, and so Sue knows how to bill. If the newly assigned exchange works, regular fees apply.   This is essentially an honor system in figuring out who cancelled whom. I do not know which are the cancelling schools and which would try to make it work.   Also, electronic deposits are not clearly explained in some cases when they show up at our bank. As soon as you do a deposit, please send me a copy or photo of that transaction. I am imploring you to keep up the communication with me. Western Union has turned into an easy way to transfer funds,too. Send the money to me; I will cash the check, and send a personal check to Bob Herring.   Information for electronic transfers has changed a bit. (I sent this email out a few months ago, but it seems not to have reached some of you.)

Name of beneficiary: INTERNATIONAL ISSE
Account number: #604406
Address of beneficiary: 3544 Glen Edge Lane, Cincinnati, Oh, USA               Beneficiary’s bank: TruPartner Credit Union
Address of Beneficiary’s bank: 1717 Western Ave., Cincinnati, Oh, 45214 ,USA         Routing number: 242076601
SWIFT CODE NOT NEEDED

Re-stating our calendar year:

We now give exchange assignments by the calendar year, not the   school year of the Americas. Some major scheduling problems have occurred when schools vary that schedule. An exchange must be completed in that calendar year; no part or all of it may be put off until the next year. When you rearrange, it messes up the schedule planned for EACH of those school during the next year, AND the schedules of the new schools expecting a fresh exchange. No renegotiating!

*Communication:

Keep your school contacts current please.     Mexico meets frequently: every two months. Costa Rica: will encourage St Paul to communicate more regularly. Japan needs translator for contact person: not connected to school but very familiar with ISSE.   India meets every 3 months; all coordinators and principals. Deepika offered to be our   coordinator for India and send minutes of those meetings to headquarters. Paola is coordinator of all three schools in Ecuador. They hold regular meetings and she should be copied on ALL communications with these schools. USA plans a meeting this fall to update 6 schools: 4 in one location and 2 others spread out. Australia meets with its coordinators 4X yearly, and sends detailed reports to headquarters.     Jillian coordinates schools in China.

*Chaperones:

Bottom line: be prepared for two. In very few cases where a delegation is 4 or 5, there may be one…. by prior agreement only. Also, in the case of Japan or China, a translator is sometimes needed for the travel period. Their job should end on arrival, and the host school should not be expected to make hosting/housing arrangements for this person.

We digressed somewhat here to discuss exchanges with China. These visitors have not had extensive interactions with Westerners and we need to be very flexible if your school   is partnered with China. They hire travel agents to go through the airport with them and negotiate requirements of travel.   Each school should   communicate extensively regarding this third adult : some plan on hosting them completely although they do not function as chaperones nor give guidance; other schools plan on two adults only and interact only at arrival and departure with them. Plan ahead. Also addressed at this time was how to integrate the Chinese students into classes: omit any lectures and schedule art, PE, and music, which is what they will offer our children as hosts.   Overuse of cell phones has been a big issue with Chinese delegations. Children should have regular cameras and cells taken away upon arrival. (Full cell phone discussion later.)   * Not all countries were in attendance at conference, but should note these issues so that potential misunderstandings do not happen.

Chaperones have expressed a number of concerns. Most important was being separated from their group or monitoring a split group. Host families should plan essentially the SAME activities, not only to treat the visitors equally, but to have equal access to the chaperone. Excursions need to be local only. You, as a chaperone, have the final word on where these children may/ may not go.   Chaperones are reminded to check with the host school to make sure that all necessary tech/physical arrangements needed for the cultural show are actually available. Chaperones and ISSE committee should make sure the delegations are prepared to visit every grade level at the host school, and can adapt with age appropriate talk. Ask your host school to prepare a schedule ahead of time, as these class visits are essential. (Some host schools have been omitting them.) Family dinners: both chaperones should go to all the dinners (or any planned family event: lunch, tea etc.). At one school they were split and scheduled early in order to meet the families. This can be accomplished at Welcome parties, and we can rest assured that the families have been vetted beforehand. Issues should be brought to the attention of the chaperones immediately, and not held to discuss at the family get-together.

*Six year leadership plan:

Time has come to start planning for future (younger) leaders of ISSE . Are you interested? Leadership team must be stable and established; not apt to leave in year or two.   Bob offered to compile a form with relevant information. Options:   1) USA younger generation takes over. Everything, all accounts, stay the same   2) Become a volunteer organization: publish a list of schools and schedule independently. 3) Become more hemisphere oriented to alleviate costs. 4) Send us an expression of interest after you meet with your teams. 5) International team: finance and organization two different locations. Please read more about this here

*Number of delegates and hosts:

The HOST school tells the visiting school how many children it can accept. In occasional cases, in small schools, a different age, same sex host may be offered successfully. Small host schools may actually offer the gender of hosts. In rare cases, children of opposite sexes may be the only offer. This is a personal situation requiring much communication and we have no definite policy statement on it. Bottom line: don’t choose your delegates before you have the hosts’ recommendations.

*Cell phones:

This is an ongoing issue with much input.   We strongly recommend that cells are collected at the arrival point in your host country. Children and parents, at the original interview, should be able to state that they are capable of being without the phone for 3 weeks.   Communication will be done daily through the report sent to the home school. The chaperone will be available by cell regularly. Have the children bring a camera: needing a cell for photos is not a valid request.   We cannot emphasize more the importance of NOT having access to their phone during their stay.

*Facebook:

Please send Bev some pictures of your delegations. Please don’t send staged group photos, but kids doing exciting/ different things. Send just one or two please with a few words of description, but no names. Claudia offered to create a release form for those photos which she will send to Bev to put on website. (Parents agree to have their child’s photo published in various forms as part of ISSE International) Look up International School to School Experience on Facebook and see what we’re doing. Join TSIE on Facebook as a friend, perhaps.

Prior to any photos of children being posted to publicly accessible websites, including Facebook, a media authorization form must be signed and submitted to ISSE administration. Please find the media authorization form here.

*Money:

These visits are not shopping trips. Spending should not include buying tech items or clothing for family members. Travel cards seem to be working well, with an approximate value of $300. max. Chaperones should be aware of the children’s spending so that the card/cash is not used up by the first week.   We are ambassadors, NOT tourists.   Parents should agree to limit their child’s money according to what was agreed upon by the school. No top-ups should be sent. Be sure parents are informed correctly and reiterate to children frequently. If a cell phone is collected by the chaperone, it is totally unacceptable for the parents to send their child a new one…. as we learned from experience. Host parents should be encouraged to give different but equal gifts to their visitors; the children are (of course) aware of differences in gifting.

*Children’s communication home:

Visiting delegations are often allowed to phone home once in the middle of the stay, at the birth parents’ cost…. Call collect. The chaperone will call home on arrival; the kids are too tired and emotional to do this. All visitors should know they are to be interacting with host families, not spending time on the internet.

* Host families, too, should be asked to limit travelers’ time on the home computer….

This step was frequently omitted until now. Any delegation not following these rules: please advise Bev IMMEDIATELY, not at the end of visit.

*Police check:

Hosting families undergo a police check in Australia.   This is very difficult in some countries, ex. Mexico. Should we all adopt at least an affidavit form stating that adult members of the household have no criminal convictions that would impact the visiting child?   It would be a legal document much like the immigration forms that we’re familiar with, and include questions on personal history, school history, and legal history and records. This would be a huge step in limiting our liability should a need arise.

*Exchange Matchings:

These were done in order of a drawn number, by the countries attending.   The first round was given to their individual schools, the next round their country schools, and the final rounds given to schools not in attendance with consideration to financing and distances when possible. Matchings will be posted on the ISSE website as always.

The 2018 Conference will be held in Liu Zhou, China, in either June or July.   Please send preferences to Bev or Sue. Bob will liaise with China. The 2020 conference will be confirmed before the 2018 conference. Ecuador will chair the 2018 conference, or USA Administration if in default.

The final meeting closed at 11:35 AM Friday, July 22, 2016. Respectfully submitted: Sue Bolduc

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