Question 1. What are the conditions of participation in the VCCS International Exchange Program?
Delegates to the exchange are chosen at the discretion of each VCCS college. In general, applications are available through the exchange contact persons at each college very early in the spring semester. These applications are screened by the college’s chief academic officer or his designee and those accepted are listed on the “Will Support” Form which indicates the number of delegates that will be supported. The application process is open to faculty, administrators, and staff employed at VCCS colleges; contact your dean or academic Vice President to determine if your college has allocated funds to support delegates this year.
Once applicants have been matched with a partner in Europe or Ghana, each must assume responsibility for his/her own travel and health insurance and assume the risk associated with airline travel, transportation in a foreign country, and accommodation in a private home. Delegates must have a valid passport (and visa for travel to Ghana); further, each delegate must agree to make a presentation at the host college and at his/her home college, must assume the responsibility for housing, feeding, and transporting his/her exchange partner, and must actively support the exchange partner’s professional development goals.
Question 2. What should I do to prepare for the exchange once my match has been confirmed?
Once you have received your confirmation letter from the Coordinator, Virginia delegates should make the first contact via email or regular mail with their European partner. Use this opportunity to clarify the professional and personal goals of your partner and plan activities that are consistent with them. This is also the time to become personally acquainted with your partner; to introduce the members of your household; to describe your living arrangements, dietary habits, leisure activities, home, neighborhood, town/city, and college; and to explore common interests and expectations.
Question 3. What kinds of activities are typical?
One of the first events should be a meeting or reception with your college president. Shortly after that, you should arrange a reception or meeting with faculty or staff in your partner’s discipline or area of responsibility. A tour of the campus/campuses and an introduction to a range of personnel, classroom visits, including lectures or talks to students, meetings with college personnel whose professional responsibilities overlap, visits to area colleges and universities, attendance at professional conferences, and presentations by your partner to faculty, staff, or students as he/she prefers are all meaningful activities.
Question 4. Are there any activities I should avoid?
Since your college and the college of your partner have made significant investments in your professional development and the globalization efforts at your respective colleges, those activities should be your focus. In keeping with that advice, you should be on campus and perform your regular duties as usual. Out of town
travel during the week should be related to the professional development goals of the exchange and not purely recreational. Recreational activities designed to enrich your partner’s appreciation of the rich cultural and historical resources in your area should be planned for evenings and the weekend. The Virginia exchange sets the tone for the reciprocal visit in Europe, so be cautious that you do not spend beyond the perceived capacity (or desire) for your partner to reciprocate. If you are uncertain about the cost or appropriateness of any planned activity, feel free to
consult the Coordinator.
Question 5. Who can I turn to for assistance on my own campus?
Do not hesitate to turn to others for assistance in planning and executing your exchange. It is normal to ask others to host your partner for an activity on or off campus, for a meal, even for an overnight. Each college has at least one International contact person who will know the history of the exchange on your campus and will be happy to assist you. The contact persons, members of the VCCS Steering International Committee, and past Past Participants will all be excellent resource persons. Of course, feel free to contact the coordinator at any time.
Question 6. What are the dates of travel for the Dutch and Ghanaian delegates?
The delegates from the Netherlands typically arrive on the second Saturday in October, and will depart from Dulles International airport two weeks later on a Saturday afternoon. The delegates from Ghana will typically arrive on the first Friday in October, and will depart two weeks later on Saturday afternoon or evening. Bear in mind, however, that the travel dates for our Ghanaian partners is dependent on their academic calendar and may shift later into October.
Question 7. How and where will I meet my exchange partner on his/her arrival weekend?
If you live within an hour or so of Dulles International airport, please plan to pick up your partner at the airport upon his/her arrival. If you live further afield, you have some choices to pick up your partner. It may be possible for you to work out transportation “sharing” with another delegate from a nearby college to get your partner to a convenient and mutually agreeable location within an hour of your home.
Question 8. Typically, what are the costs to the Virginia delegates?
The home stay model requires, at a minimum, that each delegate provide his/her partner with a room, bath, three meals a day, and local transportation. Beyond that basic level, you are free to use your own discretion. You may expect that your partner will reciprocate in kind. As a guideline, the cost of meals not provided at home should be paid by the host, and basically anything that has a cost associated that you have chosen should be paid for by you. Work out these details with your partner ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect. Note that the Dutch delegates have significantly more capacity to pay for events and meals in the United States than the Ghanaian faculty.
Many delegates choose to give their partners a gift either upon arrival or departure. Most college presidents send a gift to the European college principal (president) in May as a gesture of collegiality. Many Virginia delegates take gifts for the host delegate or his/her family and children in May.
Delegates often spend an additional $200-$500+ during the exchange, depending on the leisure time activities chosen and the cost of living in the delegate’s area.
Question 9. What kind of activities are planned for the exchange on the final weekend?
Delegates to the Exchange have the choice of spending the final Friday evening in a Washington area hotel. This arrangement makes it possible for Virginians and their European or Ghanaian partners to enjoy a day of sightseeing in D.C. and to attend a farewell reception on Friday evening at the hotel. The coordinator will provide transportation to the airport for those who choose this option. Those who do not choose to spend the final Friday in Washington, D. C. will be responsible for delivering their partners to
Washington Dulles International airport in time to meet their departing flight on Saturday afternoon (typically three hours from departure time).
Question 10. What are the dates of travel for the Virginia delegates to Europe in May?
For the Netherlands exchange, Virginia delegates will fly to the city nearest their partners’ college (generally Amsterdam) on the evening of the second Saturday in May (usually mid-month), arriving in most cases early in the morning on a Sunday. You will be met by your partner at the airport and transported home. If you do not plan to extend your stay beyond the exchange period, you will fly
back to Dulles two weeks later, typically last Sunday in May.
The Ghanaian exchange takes place in March, with one week of the program as your college’s existing Spring Break. Typically the delegates leave in the evening of the second Friday in March, and arrive in Accra on the Saturday evening. Delegates return two weeks later, leaving Accra on the Saturday and arriving in Dulles on the Sunday.
Question 11. Is it possible to extend my stay and travel in Europe or Ghana after the exchange?
Yes. You may extend your stay and travel (at your own expense, of course) as long as you wish. You may fly home from a different airport. However, there are two caveats. If the cost of your ticket is higher than it would have been for a simple round trip from Dulles International Airport in and out of the major airport nearest your exchange partner’s college, then you must pay the difference out of pocket before your departure. I will arrange airline tickets. In order
to take advantage of the best available prices, I must know your travel plans no later than the end of January.
Question 12. Is it possible to fly out of an airport near my home instead of Dulles International Airport?
Yes, again with a caveat. If the cost of the trip from the airport of your choice is higher than the cost of the flight originating in Dulles on the basic days of the exchange, you must repay the difference out of pocket before your departure. However, you may be delighted to discover that sometimes those convenient flights are not more expensive. They probably will require more connections and maybe more time malingering in airports, but as often as not, they are comparably priced.
Question 13. Can my spouse (daughter, cat, neighbor, etc.) travel with me on the exchange? My partner has invited him/her.
No. Exchange Program policy does not allow delegates to the exchange to take anyone else along on the two week professional exchange. However, your spouse (or anyone else) can meet you on the last day of your exchange and accompany you on your further travels.
Question 14. Will you arrange tickets for my traveling companions?
I cannot purchase tickets for your companions. However, I will send you the flight information and your traveling companions can easily purchase a ticket through an online agency such as Expedia, Orbitz, through a travel agent, or directly from the airlines.
Question 15. What is the best long distance calling card for The Netherlands? Ghana?
Wait until you arrive at your destination and ask your host/hostess what the best deals are in phone cards. Experience with phone cards purchased in the United States for overseas use has been profoundly disappointing!
International cell phones can be purchased or rented; your exchange partner can probably provide you with the best advice. European cell phones use a different protocol from U.S. cell phones, so it may save money to buy an inexpensive cell and pre-paid sim card at your destination.
You can also add international calling to your cell phone plan temporarily, for the month of your travel. Contact your carrier directly to explore options.
Question 16. When should I send my itinerary for the Virginia portion of the exchange to the coordinator?
Send a copy of the itinerary to the coordinator as soon as it is complete–which is usually in the two weeks leading up to the exchange. A few sample itineraries can be found on the link devoted to Past Participants.