Eagle Ridge International (ERI) provides an academically challenging and culturally relevant American homestay program for international students. The program is designed to serve students who are high achievers and serious about their education and the future.

 

ERI  works with parents and students around the world to find a quality, accredited, private Christian high school in the United States. Based in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the heartland of the United States, ERI reaches out to students and families from all over the world. To facilitate the educational process, ERI provides exceptional homestay placements with American families, thereby giving the student an optimal cultural experience.

 

All students are provided exceptional homestay placements in wholesome Christian homes with families that emphasize strong moral values based upon Biblical principles. Each family involved has met stringent guidelines to ensure the quality and success of each student's stay.

 

ERI staff members have a tremendous amount of experience in the field of education. The Director of ERI has founded and run a Christian school for more than 25 years.   The Director of Admissions is a state certified teacher with more than 30 years educational experience, 20 of them in the area of Christian school administration. In addition, most staff members come from a background in Christian education.

 

The Directors and staff of ERI are knowledgeable about Christian education and use their knowledge to choose only the best schools for student placement. They are also attuned to the needs of students and choose families to participate in the homestay program in accordance with the strict guidelines set forth by ERI.

 

Each student entering the program is viewed as a valuable and integral part of the program. A careful assessment of their individual needs is taken into consideration and a plan is formulated to meet their specific requirements. Parents who work with ERI find our staff extremely helpful, insightful, knowledgeable, and able to address any and all of their questions and concerns.

Apply

APPLICATION PROCESS

High School Academic Program / ESL  Program (English as a Second Language)

APPLYING AND RECEIVING A LETTER OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Step One:  Apply online and pay application fee

Pay $100.00 Application Fee online with Visa or Mastercard at or call office for other arrangements (i.e.wire transfers) at 573-339-1335. Please remember the application fee is nonrefundable.

Step Two:   Mail application packet
After having received a letter of acknowledgement, mail your application packet including the following documents:
  1.  A completed application form
  2.  Two essays accompanying application
  3.  A recent photograph
  4.  An official school transcript with grades for the last two years sent directly from your school to ERI
  5.  Immunization record provided by your local health department
  6.  Agreement for services (Spring Semester, Two Semester, ESL Summer & Cultural Program)
  7.  Power of attorney
  8.  Medical consent form
  9.  Pastoral reference
10.  Teacher reference
11.  Photocopy of first page of your passport
12.  Financial declaration for international students

Make a photocopy of all items in application packet  for  your personal  records.

Step Three:   Complete DS-156, DS-158 and SEVIS I-901
After  having received  your letter of  acceptance  guarantee  and  an   I-20 Form (required for obtaining Visa) do the following:
1.  Immediately complete the DS-156 & DS-158 Visa Application forms for receiving an F-1 Student visa online at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/forms/forms_1343.html or by contacting your nearest U.S. Embassy via phone, fax, or e-mail and requesting the necessary forms.  Be sure to apply as early as possible because the visa process can take a number of weeks.
2.  Request an appointment for your interview with the U.S. Embassy in your home country as soon as possible.   You may find the nearest U.S. Embassy by checking http://usembassy.state.gov/.   You may also verify all the required documentation needed at the time of your interview by going to http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html#apply or checking with your local U.S. Embassy.
3.  Gather all of the required documentation for your interview and wait for a reply from your local U.S. Embassy.
4.  Go to the American Department of Immigration and Naturalization website and complete a SEVIS I-901 and pay the $100 fee(https://www.fmjfee.com/index.jhtml).  This is required of all person requesting a visa to study in the United States.
5.  Make certain you have an updated passport.  

Please note: The Christian High School International Placement Service (CHIPS-USA) has no influence over the visa application process. Please direct all inquiries regarding your visa status to your local Immigration office.

Step Four:   Pay Remaining Fees
Pay all remaining fees (Academic Program and Homestay costs).   This may be paid online at our website (eagleridgeinternational.com), or by making special arrangements (i.e., wire transfers).   If you pay all remaining fees before you receive a visa and are denied, your Program and Homestay Fees will be refunded to you (minus any charges we incur as a result of the refund of credit card or fee transfer costs).

Step Five:   Meet Your Host Family and Coordinator
1.  Once all fees have been paid, you will be sent contact names, addresses, etc., of the host family, host coordinator, and host school.
2.  You may then make contact with the host family.

Step Six: Preparation for Departure
1.  Secure travel insurance.   You are welcome to purchase travel insurance from your choice of companies.   However, all students must provide proof of medical insurance before coming to the United States.   We have provided a suggested link to the Medex Insurance program at their website http://www.medexassist.com.
2.  Have the insurance company forward to CHIPS-USA a copy of the insurance policy.   We require all students provide proof of insurance before coming to the United States.
3.  Make all the necessary preparations for travel and homestay in America working in conjunction with your CHIPS Host Coordinator.

In the event a student is unable to receive a visa, Program and Homestay Fees will be refunded in accordance with the withdrawal refund policy. 

ESL Testing

English Proficiency Tests will be administered if necessary when arriving in the United States prior to the start of the Summer ESL Program or Two-Semester Academic Program.

Test scores from the English Proficiency Tests will be utilized for Summer ESL placement or class placement in the Two-Semester Academic Homestay Program.

No minimum score is required for attendance.   However, higher levels of English proficiency will aid in matriculation through the educational process.   Students with little English proficiency are encouraged to take the ESL Summer Program prior to the start of the regular Two-Semester Academic Homestay Program.

Students needing a TOEFL score for college entry will be provided the opportunity to take this test at the conclusion of the program.   There is an additional fee for TOEFL testing since it is not administered by the host school or the ERI program.

Photos

Each student must include a recent photo with their application.   Photos may be inserted into the application online by scanning the photo and placing it in the box indicated on the application.   Individuals completing a written copy of the application may include a hard copy of their picture. Please note that photos will be filed with the application and scanned to place the student into the student directory.

Essays

Students must submit an essay of approximately 300 words, telling about themselves,  describing interests and accomplishments not indicated elsewhere on the application. Applicants should list the most important and meaningful events that they've experienced and any honors earned during high school.

All students must also complete a second essay.   The second essay shall be a personal introduction by the student to their host family.   It should include information that will help the host family understand and relate to their homestay student.   It should include information about the student's family, the student's educational background, and the student's spiritual life as well as personal likes, dislikes, dreams, and aspirations.   Although no specific length is required, it should be sufficient to give the host family a synopsis of the student. 

STUDENT GUARDIANSHIP AND EMERGENCIES 

Guardianship  

Student guardianship must be transferred to host families by the parents/guardians of the international students for the duration of their stay in the United States.

Parents must initially sign the guardianship transfer at the bottom of the application.  Once the host family has been assigned, parents will receive an official document listing the name of the host family which requires the signature of the student's parent/s or guardian.

This form must accompany the student when they arrive in the United States.   The original will be retained by CHIPS-USA   Copies will be made for the host family and the host school.

EMERGENCIES 

Medical Emergencies

In the event of a medical emergency, the most important thing is to get immediate medical attention for the student. In the event the emergency occurs at school, host schools will take appropriate steps to care for the student's medical needs and then host parents will be contacted as quickly as possible.  

Should the emergency be life threatening, host parents and school officials will contact the ERI central office. The ERI Director of Admissions or Host Coordinator will then contact the student's parents regarding the condition of their child.

Off-campus Emergencies

Students should keep the phone numbers of all members of their host family, their host school coordinator, and the ERI central office with them at all times in case of emergency.   If students find themselves in an emergency situation away from the school campus, they should contact their host family, their host coordinator, or the ERI central office as quickly as possible.   Calls received at the central office outside the normal business hours will be transferred to one of the staff cell phones for immediate response.

HONOR CODE

All students must sign and date the Honor Code signifying their agreement with its policies and return it with the application.  

TEACHER REFERENCES  

All students applying for admittance into the ERI Two-Semester Academic Homestay Program or the Summer ESL Program must submit a teacher reference.   References must come from teachers who have been directly involved in personal instruction of the student within the past two years.

To facilitate rapid completion of enrollment, teacher references may be completed online.   For those unable to complete the reference online, a copy of the reference form may be printed, completed, and mailed directly to the ERI office by the teacher completing the reference.

Teachers will be contacted to verify their personal completion of the student reference. Therefore, e-mail addresses are of great service to us so please be certain to include it.

APPLICATION DEADLINES

Students should enroll on or before April 1 to ensure time for approval and planning for the Two-Semester Academic program beginning on August 1.   Although later enrollment is allowed, no promise of completion prior to the start of the program is indicated.  

Students desiring to utilize the ESL Summer Program should make application on or before March 1 to ensure time for approval and securing of the necessary visa.

Should you have further questions contact us at CHIPS-USA, calling within the U. S. at (573) 339-0383, internationally at (877) 728-7787, online at jmargrabe@eagleridgechristian.org.   We will answer your questions as quickly as possible. 

CIVIL DISORDER OR UNREST

In the event of civil disorder or unrest, a ERIcoordinator will provide the students with accurate information and advise them what needs to be done to maintain their safety. Although these conditions are rare in the United States, they can occur. Should this happen, students will be moved to places of safety as quickly as possible until the situation is under control.   Should the situation seem irresolvable, plans will be made to send the student home at the earliest possible time.

In the event of major civil or international unrest coordinators and students should refer to the U.S. Department of State Web site at www.travel.state.gov.

 STUDENT PLACEMENT

Students are placed in Christian high shools and homestays in the United States based upon program offerings and student needs.   ERI Coordinators endeavor to coordinate students, schools, and homestay families to provide the ultimate educational and cultural experience possible.

Homestay families and their characteristics are aligned with international student needs and likes to form a loving, nurturing, homestay environment for the student.   The goal of the program is to allow the student to experience life in an American family; not as an outsider, but as a member of the family.   Therefore, ERI looks carefully at the homestay families and their parenting skills before making any placements in their home.

All homestay families must meet stringent guidelines, are assessed based upon their Christian values, are recommended by their pastors and schools and are then screened by a ERI coordinator.  

Schools involved in the program are also carefully screened to make certain they are providing a quality academic program that equips students with the knowledge and skills to enter and succeed on the college level.   Schools are also assessed based upon their Christian values and conduct.   A school built upon biblical values teaches and trains their students to strive for excellence in all areas of their lives.

Visas

The United States Department of State hosts a website that contains all the pertinent information about obtaining and/or renewing a visa.   You can access the website at http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html .   It will link you to all the needed forms for making a visa application as well as the site for paying the visa application fee.  

SEVIS AND IMMIGRATION UPDATES

SEVIS is a government, computerized system that maintains and manages data about foreign students and exchange visitors as well as their dependents during their stay in the United States.   As of August 1, 2003, all U.S. educational institutions with a foreign student population were required to be certified participants in the SEVIS program.

ERI ensures that all schools it works with have been certified through the SEVIS program.  The process of certification involves schools registering through the Department of Homeland Security and SEVIS program, which conducts an onsight verification of the educational institution and its programs.  We are happy to provide you with the needed information to verify such certification on any of the schools where students are placed.  

SEVIS also requires that certain personal, academic, and employment-related data on international students and scholars be reported to DHS.  As a recipient of international students, ERI and all participating schools are required to report the following information to the Department of Homeland Security via the internet based SEVIS network:

      1.   Student's and dependent's names and current U.S. address.
      2.   Student's enrollment at the institution.
      3.   Start date of student's next term.
      4.   Student's failure to enroll.
      5.   Termination of enrollment and reason for termination.
      6.   Dropping below a full course of study without prior authorization by the Responsible Officer. 
      7.   Sources of funding.
      8.   Student's failure to maintain status or complete program. 
      9.   Change of student's or dependent's legal name or U.S. address.
    10.   If the student graduates before the program end date listed on the DS-2019 form.
    11.   A change in student's program, or transfer to another school. 
    12.   Any disciplinary action taken by the school against the student as a result of the student being convicted of a crime.

Sponsoring schools must report any change to the information listed above to ERI immediately. ERI has 21 days to report any changes in this information to DHS and the U.S. Department of State via SEVIS.

F-1 STUDENT VISA GUIDELINES 

The United States welcomes foreign students to American language schools, high schools, universities and other institutions of higher education.   Students on the F-1 visas may accept employment in the U.S. as a part of their practical training by obtaining an Employment Authorization document.

An applicant for a student visa must come to the United States to pursue an academic program in an institution recognized by the United States government.   The alien must have a valid educational purpose for coming to the United States.   The student can stay in the United States for as long as he/she is enrolled in school.

One very important step in the F-1 Student Visa application process is to locate a school that can issue the Form I-20 (the document needed in order to apply for a F-1 Student Visa).   All schools associated with the ERI academic homestay program are certified by the DHS and able to issue Form I-20. 

GETTING YOUR VISA TO STUDY IN THE U.S.A.

 The U.S.A. issues different types of visas to students.  A full-time student participating in the CHIPS-USA academic homestay program will need an F-1 student visa.  After a ERI participating school has accepted you for admission to full-time study, the school will send you a document called an I-20 form, which is necessary for an F-1 visa.

Once you have been accepted in a U.S. program, you will complete the official paperwork that permits you to enter and study in the U.S.A. While the application process for a student or exchange visitor visa can be confusing, hundreds of thousands of students are able to meet the requirements for a visa each year. Here are some guidelines to help make your visa application process smooth and successful.

1.  Read and sign the I-20.
     a.  Make certain that your name on the I-20 is exactly like your name on your passport.
     b.  If the names do not match exactly, contact the organization issuing the I-20 so the necessary changes can be made as  quickly as possible.
     c.  Take the I-20 with you to the visa interview.
2.  Make an appointment at the U.S. embassy in your home country.
     a.  The website  for the embassy in your country can be located at http://usembassy.state.gov/.
     b.  Student F-1 visas can be issued 120 days before the course of study registration date on your I-20.
     c.  Apply well in advance of the date you will begin your studies.  If possible, apply at least three months before you plan to travel to the U.S.
3.  Pay the $100 visa application fee.
     a.  This may be done in your home country at the U.S. embassy or consulate or at a bank that the embassy designates.
     b.  Check the website of the U.S. embassy in your home country for the specific information.
     c.  Keep all receipts and have them on hand at the visa interview.
4.  Pay the $100 SEVIS fee.
     a.  You may pay this fee with an international credit card by going to https://www.fmjfee.com/index.jhtml.
     b.  Fees must be paid at least three days prior to your visa interview.
     c.  Make a copy of the receipt and have it on hand at the visa interview.
5.  Complete the DS-126 (Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa) and DS-128 (Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant).
     a.  These forms are available at http://evisaforms.state.gov/
     b.  Male students between the ages of 16 and 45 must also complete the DS-157 (Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application) found athttp://foia.state.gov/FORMS/vis/ds0157.pdf.
6.  Prepare for your visa interview.
     a.  Business attire is appropriate dress for your interview.  First impressions can be crucial so present yourself well.  Visa interviews are normally short so good first impressions are very important.
     b.  Be prepared to give your information quickly and completely.
     c.  If you do not speak English well, you may ask for an interpreter.
     d.  State your educational plans briefly, clearly, and honestly to the visa officer.
     e.  Have a specific academic or professional objective.
     f.  Demonstrate to the officer that you plan to return home when you complete your studies.
7.  Obtain proof of adequate financial support to study and live in the United States.
     a.  If your family is providing the financial support, bring documentation of earnings, time at employer, etc.
     b. When providing information about bank accounts, a letter from the bank to substantiate your account, average balance, and length of account will help.
8.  If your visa is denied, you may appeal the decision.
     a.  Have your U.S. school fax or e-mail  the embassy or consulate in your city with details about your qualifications and requesting reconsideration of your application.
     b. Consult the following site for appropriate fax and e-mail addresses:  http://usembassy.state.gov/.
9.  Once your visa is approved, you should receive it within a few days.
10. If your visa expires during your studies, you need only worry about renewing it if you leave the country.  If this is the case, consult the following website for specific instructions:  http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html

Student Info

Homestay Family Information 

Eagle Ridge International invites you and your family to join thousands of other families across the U.S. who enjoy the enriching and rewarding experience of hosting an international student!

Why are homestay families needed?
ERI is working with students around the world to find them opportunities to attend Christian high schools in the United States.   You can help by providing them a safe, nurturing Christian home in which to stay during their 10 month program of study.  With Christian schools spread across the nation, you can help to give our students a truly rich and rewarding "American" experience.   It can be a truly rewarding experience for both your family and your international guest.

Why do students want to come to the U.S. to study?
International students are bombarded daily with exposure to American culture through TV, movies, and the internet.   Because of this they are anxious to experience it first hand.   Likewise, international parents understand the idea of a global society and want their children to learn to be global citizens.   What better place than the United States, the melting pot of the world?  English is quickly becoming the international language and what better way to learn English than in the United States immersed in an American school and an American family.   But perhaps most importantly, international students and their families understand that America represents the world's best model of democracy and freedom and they want to experience it for themselves.

Who can host?
Host families represent varied economic and racial backgrounds.   Homestay parents include working parents, single parents, empty nesters, and even couples without children.  They are warm, nurturing individuals that are international travelers themselves, or would like to be. They love God and their country and wish to share their home and their nation with a young person from another part of the world. They are interested in learning about other cultures and eager to share their own.   They are excited about making an international student a part of their family and a member of their community.

Who are the students?
ERI academic homestay students are young ladies and gentlemen from countries around the world enrolled in grades 9-12 who are academically strong, proficient in English, and Christian in their beliefs and attitudes.   They have been well screened and individually matched to their homestay families.  They arrive in August or January for the Academic program and spend either 5 or 10 months studying in a neighboring Christian school.   They are fully insured and come with their own spending money to cover all their personal expenses as well as with a monthly stipend for their homestay family.  They are eager to learn and experience life in the United States and gain a quality education at the same time.   They have loving, encouraging parents at home that are willing to sacrifice to provide this experience for their child.

What is expected from the homestay family?
Homestay families are expected to provide a separate bed and a quiet place for the student to study.   If a separate bedroom is available, that is wonderful but not required.   Homestay families are also to provide three meals per day and local transportation to and from school.  Homestay families are to treat their international student as a family member.   Communicate with them openly, provide love and encouragement, and instruction when necessary.   Assign them chores, rules, and privileges as you would any family member.   Yes, they are guests, but they want to have a real "American" family experience so make them a part of your family.

What is expected of students?
Students are expected to be caring members of the family.   They are to honor and respect those in authority and to complete the chores and duties assigned. They are to attend school faithfully and apply themselves diligently to their school work.  Students are to share their culture and their customs with their homestay families and their communities.   They are to take part in family and school life through church attendance, family outings, and school activities. Students are to communicate openly with their homestay families and their school officials so that they can receive help when needed.  

What can you expect of Eagle Ridge International?
ERI works diligently to monitor students admitted to the program and to make the best matches possible between homestay families and students.  ERI coordinators meet, greet, and orient new students and families so their experiences can be the best possible.  We work to clarify the expectations of all involved and uncover any misunderstandings that may occur while providing ongoing support and advice to all concerned. 

How does a family apply to host a student?
If you and your family are interested in hosting, please follow one of the convenient steps listed below:
1.   Call our number at 573-339-1811 and speak to one of our staff members about hosting!
2.   E-mail us at beth@eagleridgeinternational.com

P.S. Don't forget to tell us how you heard about ERI
We look forward to sharing this wonderful cultural experience with you and your family!

EAGLE RIDGE INTERNATIONAL COORDINATOR

The ERI Coordinator works out of the central office in Cape Girardeau , MO.   The ERI Coordinator works closely with the Host Coordinator from each individual school participating in the ERI program making certain that homestay families are adequately screened and trained and that host schools have adequate staffing to handle the students assigned.

The ERI Coordinator facilitates and administers regular training for host schools and homestay families making certain  there is full understanding on all parts. The ERI Coordinator also aids in meeting and greeting new students arriving in the United States when necessary. 

The ERI Coordinator also handles all school and homestay placements and keeps all records of students, schools, and homestay families.   All reporting done to SEVIS is copied and sent by e-mail to the ERI Coordinator so that it can be stored in the appropriate student file.   Master student files are kept at the central office and maintained by the ERI Coordinator.

The ERI Coordinator also invoices all payments to be made to host schools and homestay families and makes certain that all payments are up to date.

Host schools, students, or homestay families can contact the ERI Coordinator toll free at 573-339-1811 or e-mail beth@eagleridgeinternational.com  if they have any questions.

HOST SCHOOL COORDINATOR

Each school participating in the ERI program will assign a Host School Coordinator who will serve as your contact point at your host school.   They will take care of all class scheduling, testing, and arrival information.  

They will also work closely with the ERI central office to provide you with the best homestay possible.   They will screen, monitor, and match you to the family or individual that will best meet your individual needs.

Upon arrival in the United States, you will be met at the airport by your Host School Coordinator and taken to your homestay.   They will also take you on a tour of your school and give you the opportunity to meet with your teachers.

The Host School Coordinator will be your initial contact point at all times should you have questions or concerns.   If they are unable to answer your questions, they will refer you to someone in the ERI central office who can help.

You may contact your Host School Coordinator whenever needed.   They are available 24 hours a day in case of emergencies.

TRANSPORTATION

If needed, your ERI Host School Coordinator will meet you at the airport to transport you to your homestay location.   Please note a $100 transportation fee is required for this service. 

They will meet you at baggage claim and will have a placard with the ERI logo and your name.  They will introduce themselves, show you a photo I.D. to positively identify themselves, and then help you to the car for transport to your new homestay.   If you arrive late at night, it might be necessary that you spend one night in a nearby hotel before meeting with your homestay family.   If that is the case, your School Coordinator will make certain that you have a private room where you can rest and relax after your long journey.   In addition, they will make certain that you have had dinner before retiring for the evening.

The next day, they will take you to your homestay and introduce you to your new family.   Once introductions have been made and your School Coordinator is assured that you are comfortable in your new surroundings, they will leave.

Should you have any questions or concerns, you may contact your Host School Coordinator 24 hours a day at the number which they supply to you.

STAYING HEALTHY WHILE ABROAD

Living in a foreign country can be a rewarding but challenging experience emotionally, mentally, and physically.   Therefore it is very important that all students are in good health before departing and do their utmost to maintain good health while living abroad.

All students should do the following before leaving home:

1.   Schedule an appointment for a thorough physical exam with your family physician. Discuss with him your plans and destination and any possible medical concerns you may have.   A health statement from your doctor may be necessary to receive a visa.
2.   Schedule an appointment with your dentist.   Take care of any cleaning or cavities before departing on your trip.
3.   Take care of any immunizations that you may need in order to enter the United States.   To find out about specific inoculations in the area where you will be staying, please contact the central ERI office.   You may also consult the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (http://www.cdc.gov/) or the World Health Organization (WHO) (http://www.who.int/).
4.   Make two copies of your medical records.   Keep one on your person and the other in your luggage.   The second copy should be given to your host family when arriving in the United States.  A good medical record will mention ALL drugs you are taking, including any not related to disease, and identify any chronic ailments, allergies or hypersensitivities. It will also list your immunization history, blood type, eyeglass prescription, personal physician, health insurance (along with the number of the policy) and your religious background.   Be sure to make a photocopy of your medical records in case of loss. Carry these documents in a place that is both secure and accessible by you at all times while traveling.
5.   If you take prescription medicine, you should research whether it is available in America and bring a copy of the prescription for the generic name of the drug. Your doctor may also recommend medications to bring along if he or she thinks you might be susceptible to a recurrence of a recent illness, infection, or allergy.   Every drug item needs to have a verifiable doctor's prescription or pharmacy container with your name on it accompanying each prescription drug.
6.   If you have any favorite over-the-counter remedies that you use, you may want to take an initial or full-year's supply.   For customs purposes, take all medicines in their original containers.
7.   If you use syringes for diabetes, allergy injections, or other medical reasons you will need to bring a doctor's note if you have to bring them.   Otherwise, they may be construed as drug paraphernalia and confiscated.
8.   If you have a medical condition, be certain to get a Medic Alert emblem (recognized internationally) and be certain to wear it. In how many languages can you convince a nurse that you are allergic to a medication and not just afraid of a needle? For more information, contact the MedicAlert Foundation International at 1-800-344-3226 or visit their Web site (http://www.medicalert.org/). 

Also watch what you eat when you are traveling.   Unless you are certain of the safety of the food, it is best to drink bottled water and avoid the fresh fruit and vegetables.   Once you have arrived in the United States , you must remember to monitor your health and follow healthy practices.   Eat a well-balanced diet and get adequate rest.   You will have plenty of time to see and experience the American lifestyle, so do not wear yourself out physically trying to see everything and sample everything.   Once you have settled in, your host family will help you find a physician who will serve as your personal doctor while you are in the country.   You should provide your physician with a copy of your medical records and any other information that will help him provide the best possible care for you.

Common sense precautions should be taken when traveling to the United States.   Students should take traveler's checks, some American currency, and an ATM/debit card or credit card with them.   Automatic Teller Machines are available in most large cities.   However, some debit cards have a restriction on international transactions so you need to check with your local bank before leaving home to make certain they will work outside of your home country.

Do NOT carry large amounts of cash around with you.   Keep your passport and money safe in a money belt or small purse that can be worn underneath your clothing.   Wearing a purse on the outside highlights where you keep your money and valuables.   It can also be easily ripped from your shoulder causing injury to you in the process.   Rubber bands wrapped around your wallet also make it difficult for pick pockets to remove.

Do not take valuable items on your trip. Also guard your passports, visas, and documents at all times.   Do not place them in the outer flaps of your bags where they can easily be stolen.   Before leaving home, make a copy of the identification page of your passport and carry it with you separate from your passport at all times.   If local law does not require you to keep your passport with you, carry only the photocopy when you are out and about and leave the passport in a secure place in your room.

When you are abroad or traveling, take the common sense precautions you would at home.   Always be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables concealed.   Most people are attacked because it is assumed they are carrying cash.

Be careful when meeting strangers and listen to the advise of your ERI coordinator.   Should you be the victim of a crime, remember that your embassy is available to help you.   Every embassy and consulate has a duty officer on-call around the clock to assist in an emergency.

When traveling, make certain that your parents, your Host School Coordinator, and your ERI Coordinator have a copy of your itinerary.   Also keep your hands on your bags at all times.   When you are distracted, you are an easy target for thieves.   Also do not leave your bags unattended.   When checking flight schedules or using the telephone, make certain to watch your bags.

Be especially alert in crowds.   Any place with a crowd is a likely place for thieves and muggers. Plan your trip so that you do not arrive at an unknown town late at night without having made arrangements for spending the night.

When traveling alone, sleep with your money belt, or neck-safe hidden under your clothing.   When you stay at a hotel, make use of the safety deposit boxes that hotels have.   Leave your passport and any money that you do not need safely locked away.

If driving, keep your doors locked and suitcases out of sight.   Do not leave valuables in parked cars.   Thieves target rental cars and cars with out of town or foreign license plates.

No matter where you are or where you are going, always stay alert.   Also trust your intuition.   Avoid secluded or unknown places.   If you feel you are in danger, you probably are.   Call 911 for help in the United States .   Don't be afraid to call attention to yourself by yelling or screaming, or asking for assistance when needed.  

For more safety travel tips, see the US State Department at www.travel.state.gov.  Information includes regional information, planning your trip, how to register at the Embassy, and tips for travel, health, safety and living abroad.

Top Ten Travel Tips for Students from the United States State Department

1.     Make sure you have a signed, valid passport and visas, if required.   Also before you go, fill in the emergency information page of your passport.
2.     Read the Consular Information Sheets (and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings, if applicable) for the countries you plan to visit.
3.     Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends at home, so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency. Keep your host program informed of your whereabouts.
4.     Make sure you have insurance that will cover your emergency medical needs (including medical evacuation) while you are overseas.
5.     Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling. Remember, while in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws!
6.     Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas and never accept packages from strangers.
7.     While abroad, avoid using illicit drugs or drinking excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages, and associating with people who do.
8.     Do not become a target for thieves by wearing conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of cash or unnecessary credit cards.
9.     Deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money to avoid violating local laws.
10.   When overseas, avoid demonstrations and other situations that may become unruly or where anti-American sentiments may be expressed.

Health Concerns

Avian Influenza

During the last year, Avian Influenza has become a worldwide concern. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the US Department of State have NOT issued any travel warnings with regard to the Avian Flu.   C.H.I.P.S. urges students and their families to use the resources provided here and elsewhere to make informed decisions about studying abroad or to decide what to do if the Avian Flu should develop while a student is in the United States .

Center for Disease Control (CDC) 
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/

The CDC is a major component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is the principal agency in the U.S. government for protecting health and safety in America.  This website provides background information on avian flu, recent outbreaks, transmission in animals/infection in humans, and prevention.

CDC recommendations for travelers
http://www.cdc.gov/travel/other/avian_influenza_se_asia_2005.htm

World Health Organization (WHO)

http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/en/
The WHO is the United Nations specialized agency for health. This website includes the most recent information on avian flu outbreaks around the world.

WHO recommendations for travelers
http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/travel2005_11_3/en/ index.html

U.S. Department of State: Avian Flu Fact Sheet (includes travel advice)http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/health/health_1181.html 

Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_1168.html

PandemicFlu.gov
http://www.pandemicflu.gov/
Description: The official U.S. government website for information on pandemic flu and avian influenza.

NAFSA: The Association of International Educators
www.nafsa.org
This site provides useful links to additional information about the Avian Flu.

CODE OF HONOR

In signing the Code of Honor, I fully recognize that CHIPS-USA and it's participating schools are committed to being a Christian religious organization and that it offers a lifestyle of commitment to Jesus Christ of Nazareth as personal Savior and Lord.   It is therefore my personal commitment to be a person of integrity in my attitude and respect for what ERI represents in its calling to be a Christian organization.

 1.   I PLEDGE to apply myself wholeheartedly to my intellectual pursuits and to use the full powers of my mind for the glory of God. 
 2.   I PLEDGE to grow in my spirit, developing my own relationship with God.
 3.   I PLEDGE to develop my body with sound health habits through participating in wholesome physical activities.
 4.   I PLEDGE to cultivate good relationships socially with others and to seek to love others as I love myself. I will not lie; I will not steal; I will not curse; I will not be a talebearer. I will not cheat or plagiarize; I will do my own academic work and will not inappropriately collaborate with other students on assignments.
 5.   I PLEDGE to follow the Biblical mandate, as noted in Matthew 18:15-17 and Luke 17:3, to resolve any personal conflicts that I have with all others.
 6.   I PLEDGE at all times to keep my total being under subjection from all immoral and illegal actions and communications, whether on or off campus, or at my homestay. I will not take any illegal drugs or misuse any drugs; I will not engage in or attempt to engage in any illicit, unscriptural sexual acts, which shall include any homosexual activity and sexual intercourse with one who is not my spouse through traditional marriage of one man and one woman. I will not drink alcoholic beverages of any kind; I will not use tobacco; I will not engage in other behavior that is contrary to the rules and regulations listed in the Student Handbook.
 
7.   I PLEDGE to maintain the integrity of openness to God's claims on my life and to do my utmost to know and follow His will for my life.
 8.   I PLEDGE to attend class, all required chapel services on campus, and attend the church I am assigned through the Eagle Ridge International and/or school organization to honor and lift up God.   This is part of my program training and cultural experience.
 9.   I PLEDGE to abide by the rules and regulations that may from time to time be adopted by the ERI and school administrations. I understand Eagle Ridge International is a private organization, and I therefore have no vested rights in the governing of the organization or the schools I attend. I accept my attendance in the ERI program as a PRIVILEGE and not a right and that Eagle Ridge International reserves the right to require the withdrawal of a student at the time if in the judgment of ERI, or the school, such action is deemed necessary to safeguard ERI ideals of scholarship or the spiritual and moral atmosphere of it as a Christian organization.

I will keep the CODE OF HONOR carefully and prayerfully. I understand that my signature below is my acceptance of the entire Code of Honor and completes a contract between me and ERI, which is a prerequisite for matriculation and my continued association with ERI. My signed pledge becomes a part of my permanent file. Further, my acceptance of the Code of Honor is a solemn vow and promise to God as to how I will live my life.

_________________________________                   __________________
Student signature                                                                       Date

WITHDRAWAL PROTECTION

Students withdrawing from the program for any reason before its conclusion will be charged according to the following refund policy.

If a student cancels before the program begins, 80 percent of the School and Homestay Fee paid is refundable.

If a student leaves the program within 30 days of its beginning, 50 percent of the School and Homestay Fee paid is refundable.

After 30 days OR in the event of being required to leave the program because of faulty documents, failure to obey program rules, or being charged with a criminal act in the United States , no refund is provided.

If the request for an F-1 Visa is denied by United States Department of Immigration and Naturalization, the total School and Homestay Fee paid is refundable less $500 administrative costs.

STUDENT INFORMATION

English Language Requirements

Students are NOT required to be fluent in English.   However, it must be noted that the inability to communicate effectively does inhibit the transmission of information and knowledge.   Therefore it is recommended that all high school students study and gain the highest level of English proficiency possible.

Students unable to study English at home are encouraged to take a summer ESL class through the ERI organization.   The proficiency gained will be monumental in helping further the educational experience of the students involved.

INTERNATIONAL PHONE CARDS 

International phone cards or calling cards allow the caller to call from a number of countries around the world to any destination in the world.   They come in both pre-paid and monthly billed or credit forms.   They should be used when the cost is cheaper than the local service provider in that country.   Therefore, it is suggested that you check the rates for calls from the United States to your home country before purchasing large numbers of international minutes.  International phone cards can be purchased at most airports and department stores, and once emptied; they can easily be refilled or replaced with a new card.   Cheaper prices for international phone cards can be found by searching the internet.  PinShark.com carries a host of international calling cards at discount rates as do many others.   It would be best to shop around before settling on one to purchase.   Be certain to check the manner in which they bill your time before purchasing a card. 

Host Info

Every student is assigned a Christian "host family" before they ever leave their own country.  Each "host home" has met stringent guidelines that ERI requires of each home setting.  You will also note that each "host home" has a local church and pastor whom they are connected.  The church name is also included in your contact information.  This is usually the church that each student is required to attend as part of the cultural experience of America.

 

You will be notified as to the "host home" family member names, address, contact information and local church they attend.  It is advisable to contact your host family before you leave your home country and before you arrive in the United States.We do extensive background checks on each adult family member living in the same house the students will be placed. ERI is determined to provide each student and parent with confidence concerning the safety and care of your student in their placement in "host homes." No student will be placed into a home without a pastor and church associated with the homestay process.

FAQ

Q: What is Eagle Ridge International and who is involved?

A:  ERI is a network for providing education at the high school level in the United States. ERI. provides affordable homestay study within the United States, with placement in qualified Christian Schools and Christian home environments.  

Each ERI participating school designates a staff member to be the ERI Coordinator. The on-campus ERI Coordinator helps with academic and housing arrangements, provides an on-site orientation, and serves as your local resource for assistance.

The ERI Director of Admissions and School Coordinators evaluate each student's application, make placements, and facilitate the process by serving as the communication link between the ERI Coordinators in the USA and the applicants around the world. ERI also sends the transcript from your host school to your home school or forwards it to the college of your choice.

Q: Where can I go?

A:  You will study at one of the many Christian schools located within the United States that participate in the ERI Academic Homestay Program. The main office of ERI will assign you to a school according to availability guidelines. Each school carries accreditation and approval for course work qualified for entrance into the college level of study across the United States.  

Q: What kind of program is ERI?

A:  The ERI experience is a unique opportunity to learn about the host country through immersion in the culture.   Students are enrolled in the host school and typically take the same courses and live similarly to the students of the United States. Students selected to participate in CHIPS-USA academic homestay programs welcome the differences and challenges that life in a foreign culture brings, and have the maturity and flexibility to succeed in a more independent type of program abroad.  

Q: How much does it cost?

A:  ERI is one of the most affordable ways to study in the U.S. at the high school level.   We operates with a simple fee structure. It allows parents and students to pay tuition, housing, and fees, all in one payment. ERI administrates those funds and distributes them directly to the host schools and families.  

Homes must qualify by meeting the strict qualifications set by ERI.  Each home is visited by a staff member who evaluates and scores each home according to the guidelines set forth under Eagle Ridge International.   

A nonrefundable $100 application fee is required with your application.

Registration/Enrollment Fee: $250

Tuition and Housing Fees: Tuition of $18,600 (2 semesters)

All program fees are invoiced one month prior to departure and must be paid in full before students will be allowed to participate in the ERI program.

Additional costs include transportation, health insurance (required), visa fees, TOEFL testing, and personal expenses.  

Q: Am I eligible?

A:  The program is available for students who are entering high school (have completed grade 8).   Students must also demonstrate personal maturity needed to study abroad.   This maturity is evaluated by student essays and teacher and pastoral recommendations.   Students who are not native speakers of the English language must complete the English Proficiency Test.  

Q: What classes will I be taking at the Christian School?

A.  Once you've been accepted into the program, you will follow the procedures of the class workload at your assigned Christian school.   The class courses will be provided to you in your information package.   It will contain all the necessary information on the courses you will be taking, as well as, all information pertaining to the school year.   If you are required to take an additional English proficiency class, this will be noted on your class workload assignment sheet (Please note ESL Program).  

Q: Do I have to be fluent in English language?

A:  No.   Students not fluent in English may attend a summer session to improve their English proficiency prior to the start of the school year to achieve an acceptable language proficiency score.  

Q: What can I expect as a CHIPS-USA participant?

A.  Students should think carefully and research about what life is like for a student in the United States, and expect to live and study in similar conditions. ERI benefits include full-time enrollment in the host institution, three meals per day, and a supportive family environment where you can immerse yourself in the culture. ERI students receive an on-site orientation and local support as needed from the Host Coordinator.  

Q: Do I need a visa?

A:  For study in the U.S., you will need an F-1 student visa and your host school will be your F-1 visa sponsor.  

Q: What are the grade levels CHIPS-USA students will be attending in the United States?  

A:  A typical student in the United States will attend school from the ages of 6 through 17 years of age.   This will translate to attending the 1st through the 12th grade.   The CHIPS-USA program involves students that will be attending the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.

Q: What are my chances for being accepted?

A:  Applicants with strong academic backgrounds and favorable teacher and pastoral references are normally accepted into the program. It is to your benefit to carefully complete the essays which are submitted with the application.  

Q: How long until I know if I'm accepted?

A:  The ERI placement process consists of several steps. First, you must forward your application to ERI along with any necessary fees.   ERI then reviews your application and initially approves or disapproves based upon the information provided.   This process usually requires three to five business days providing ample host schools and homestay families are available. Once we accepts you and designates a host site, acceptance materials will be forwarded to you.   Upon payment of all fees, your letter of Acceptance Guarantee will be provided.  

Q: Whom do I contact for more information?

A:  All contact should be made through the ERI office. Once acceptance has been completed and a host school has been designated, you will be put in contact with the School Coordinator. The School Coordinator will provide you with information about your school and assist you in completing your study arrangements.   The ERI central office will provide you with information pertaining to your homestay and answer any other questions you may have.   You may contact ERI at 573-339-1335 or email at jmargrabe@eagleridgechristian.org  or visit us on the web at www.eagleridgeinternational.com

Contact Us

Eagle Ridge International 
4210 State Highway K
Cape Girardeau, MO  63701  USA
Phone:  (573) 339-1335

Coordinator
Janice Margrabe

jmargrabe@eagleridgechristian.org