VAIL — Vail Mountain School’s Leela Greenberg has a double degree in Chinese and Spanish, spent a year in Spain as a Fulbright scholar and studied abroad in China and Taiwan. When VMS decided to start an international program, she got the nod.
She’s now the school’s international program coordinator, and next year, VMS will host up to 10 students from Asia and Europe, with a goal of up to 30 in the near future.
Greenberg just returned from a tour of Chinese schools with New Oasis International Education, where she met Vail Mountain School’s first official international student, Li Dongling, from Chengdu, China.
“As political and cultural walls continue to open, many students have a genuine appetite for cultural exchange and exploration,” Greenberg said.
She said a 13-year-old boy she met in Beijing sums it up perfectly.
“I know I will learn so much from American friends in a U.S. school. The more we make friends, the more America and China will get along in the future. This is very important.”
The majority of VMS’ international students will come from China. They’re scheduled to stay for one academic year with the option of staying through graduation.
The long term vision for the program includes partnerships with schools in Asia, Europe and South America, student and faculty exchanges around the globe, an array of study abroad trips and dual degree programs with foreign high schools.
Local families will host the international students. The host family must live near VMS and must provide meals, transportation and a private bedroom. There is some compensation for host families, and they’ll be screened by New Oasis.
In each of the four cities Greenberg visited, she interviewed students who had selected Vail Mountain School as one of their top choice schools. She said they were interested in academic programs such as the Harvard Leadership Institute, as well as school traditions including Ski Friday.
“Generally, students in China are familiar with New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, but few had heard of Colorado before they were introduced to VMS,” Greenberg said. “These students come from urban areas with populations between 14 million to 28 million, so it’s hard for them to conceptualize a place like Vail.”