Calvert Catholic Schools and St. Wendelin Catholic School are recruiting internationally to bring Chinese students to their schools.
Dominic Helmstetter, Calvert's principal, and Brian Shaver, St. Wendelin's director of parish and school, were among a group of about 10 people from college preparatory high schools from across the country that made a trip to China at the end of February.
Shaver said the schools are affiliated with a company that is procuring Chinese exchange students for the schools.
Helmstetter said he is thankful it was able to create the exchange program, and officials are proud to be a part of it.
"It's exciting that we are at the forefront of this initiative. ... We want it to be a lasting and sustainable program," he said.
Shaver said goals of the program are to foster increased global awareness, enlighten Chinese and American students to other cultures and push the school into a new level of academic excellence.
"(The program) allows us to just enhance our overall academic environment," he said.
Shaver said he felt it would be a benefit for St. Wendelin's students to interact directly with another culture, and he also felt Chinese
students could benefit from St. Wendelin's academic quality.
Helmstetter said while Chinese students will be learning English and about American culture, Calvert students can be learning Chinese and more about the Chinese culture.
Officials think it is going to be a tremendous academic opportunity for the school system, he said.
Both schools are making plans to offer Chinese as a foreign language.
Shaver said most students who participate in the exchange program will arrive in August, at the beginning of next school year, and St. Wendelin probably will cap the number of students it accepts at 15. Calvert is to accept up to 20 students.
"Our students will stay with host families," Shaver said.
Helmstetter said goals of the China trip, which came at no cost to the school, were to develop new relationships with families overseas, begin a screening process to review student applications and gauge the level of interest of students participating and the school accepting them.
Prospective students could see the officials who run American schools, and school officials were able to interview students and learn about China.
"From our perspective, it was a great experience," Shaver said.