Kimberly Houk ReportingForeign Exchange students are becoming rare in Utah. With few international students being accepted into Utah's schools, educators are worrying about what students here may be missing out on.
They add something different to the classes they sit in, bringing with them a culture that's mysterious to others. Foreign Exchange students, they're dwindling in numbers in Utah -- only 52 are here now compared with more than 300 a couple of years ago.
Terri Boyce, Cultural Exchanges: “It was devastating. It was like, no way, why would Utah do that? It’s the only state, it’s the only state in the U.S. that now has doors closed to foreign exchange.”
Two years ago the state legislature stopped funding the Foreign Exchange Student Program at the request of the State Office of Education. Schools don't want to have to include the cost of educating exchange students in their budget.
Terri Boyce: “I think that they don’t understand the true value.”
Boyce says the value comes from learning about different cultures, and showing international students the benefits that come from living in a democratic society.
Terri Boyce: “What could be a better predecessor for future generations that has a higher level of understanding of our cultures?”
Andrey Trifanov, Russian Exchange Student: “The experience I get here, I’m going to use for being a diplomat in the future.”
Trifanov is from Russia, studying in Utah on scholarship. For those not on scholarship school districts in Utah require between $4800 and $8000 for tuition. Or it has to be a direct exchange -- one Utah student for every International student accepted.
But at the DaVinci Academy in Ogden, the only school that's accepting foreign exchange students for free, adding a couple of kids to a school wouldn't significantly increase their operating costs, and...
Terri Boyce: “A few students added to their school really adds so much value.”
There are more international students wanting to come to America than there are Americans that want to go abroad to study. One of the reasons is the language barrier -- more international students can speak English, very few American students can speak another language fluently.