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Erasmus+ Journal (Issue 3) 2014/15

Kevin Ferwerda, Sisters Middle School, USA, Mobility for internship, KPZ

Sisters Middle School

15200 McKenzie Highway

Sisters, OR 97759


The first time I had contact with the school was in January 2014. During my internship I will stay with relatives. That is also how I found the Sisters Middle School. I send an email to the principal of the school. It took a while before he respond to my email, but finaly in June he send me the confirmation for the internship.

Sisters Middle School is a school for children with the age of 10-14 years. The school houses in a small village. The lessons that are given to the students are:

  • Americana: exploration of american roots music and folk art;
  • Art;
  • Band: Playing in a band;
  • Choir;
  • Drama;
  • Education Recource Center: develop specific learning strategies;
  • Foreign language;
  • Health
  • Language Arts
  • Leadership/yearbook
  • Math
  • Algebra
  • Science
  • Social Studies

The daily school schedules are from 8.05-3.05 for monday, tuesday,  thursday and friday, and on wednesday the schedule is from 8.55-3.05.

For my own education I will need to set up a research. What I want to find out, is the place that the school takes within the community. I will help with certain extracurricular activities, I will question the teachers, students and I hope to speak to some parents. 

Getting a Visa for the United States is a very long and hard procedure. To get your Visa, you got to have certain forms. To obtain these forms, you need to contact a sponsor organisation. This organisation will screen you and set up a contract for the internship. They are your 'supervisors' during the internship. In order to complete this contract they will do and ask you certain things:

  • having a Skype interview;
  • your university has to sign a student school verification; 
  • fill out a form with personal information;
  • the organisation need to had contact with the host school.

Walking through these steps will finaly result in obtaining your forms, wich you will need to hand over to the ambassy. 

The organisatioin that I used is the CICD. This is an organisation located in Seattle. They provide visa programs for teacher interns. For more information, visit http://www.cicdgo.com/


Like I said earlier, you have to complete som forms for the organisation. Make sure you complete this as soon as possible. One thing that is very important is your health insurance. Your health insurance in The Netherlands is usually not good enough, because they are not able to provide enough information about the coverage in the United States. There is an opportunnity to take health insurance through the organisation. This will only cost 45 or 70 Dollar per month, depending on the coverage you choose.

You can choose to search for your own school for your internship, or your sponsor can provide a hostschool. The CICD has a lot of hostschools all over the United States. after you completed all your paperwork, and the hostschool did their part, you may go to the consulate (the sponsor has to give you a 'go', and provide you with the DS-2019 form). In the mean time you got to pay the fee for the sponsor program. Everything cost money sad enough. For me, this was $1530,- (including the health insurance). NOTE: Do not book a flightticket before you received your visa! As soon as you have your information, you can make an appointement at the consulate. Go to http://amsterdam.usconsulate.gov/ and go to the right visa program. you have to answer a lot of questions. This contains peronal information, dates of your program, where you stay during your program, and some questions about your background. 

After this you need to upoad a picture of yourself. This picture must be 5 inch by 5 inch. This is for your official visa. After this you are able to pay your SEVIS fee. This is a fee for the visa itself. This will cost $180,- (creditcard only). After this you get a link to go to a website to make the official appointment with the consulate. Also here you have to provide some personal information, your addres (they are taking your passport to print your visa on one of the pages) so they can sent it to your home addres. When you provided all the required information, you have to pay another $160,- for the appointment and to sent your passport to your homeaddres. I know, it's a lot of money, but it is worth it.

At the day of the appointement you have to take care of certain things. First make sure you do not take ANY electronic devices with you. THEY WILL NOT LETT YOU IN, and you have to pay again for a new appointement. Also make sure you have the following documentation with you:

- SEVIS Payment receipt

- All the documents provided by the Sponsor organisation

- Bank statement copy (for 3 months you got to have at least $2000,- available.

- Passport

- Proof that you will return home (school documents, parents lettre, etc.)

- Resumé

This is a list that your sponsor will provide when they sent you the documents. Also you get a list for your preparation for the interview at the consulate. Take good notice of these lists.

Going to the States

The flight ticket will be about 700 euro, depending on the time of year you try to book.

At the airport you have to go through ceveral checkpoints. At every checkpoint, you have to answer some questions.

As soon as you are in the united states, you have to fill in a blue card with your information. This is for the douane, your last checkpoint before you are officially in the States. But first you have to go through immigration. Her you have to show you passport with the visa, he will ask you some questions about the reason of your stay, your location and the duration. To not make jokes, usually they do not like that, they take it very serious.

After all this, Welcome to the Big United States.

Living in the States

It depends on the city, the state and the area where you live, how people are. I lived in Central Oregon (a very beautiful area), the people here ar very nice, polite and willing to help you. If you need help, you can go to everyone and they will help you. I think, and I have heard that the mentallity in the bgger cities, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, is way different.

There is one big note I have to make: the United States is a 'car-country'. that means that they do a lot with their car. Unlike The Netherlands, if they have a bike, they only use it for sports, not to go to their work (in general). I bought a really good bike in the first week for only $100,-. But after a couple of times on the road, I noticed that they are not used to bikers. So be careful on the road. Cars are the big bosses on the road.

Grocery shopping in the US is different and more expensive. I haven't bought a lot of grocery's because I lived with my family, but to show you how expensive it can be: for one week of food we paid an average of $120,- for three persons. In The Netherlands we pay that for 5 persons. So buy what you need.

The US is a country for snacks in stead of a real lunch, going out for dinner and cereal in the morning. It is a little different thean you're probbably used to, but you will get used to it.

Teaching in the US

I thought in Social studies 6th and 7th grade. It covers economy, geogrophy, history and a part biology. During the lessons you also have to provide some reading and writing exercises. I didn't had one way to teach the children. I got a subject and i just had to cover all the important parts of this subject. I could use my own ceativity during my lessons, create my own assignments and disign my class like I want it. This was very good for my OGO skills. Every day was different. I build my lessons on the lesson that I already gave.

The teachers at the school where very nice and helpful. I could come in every class to see what was happening in the other classes. The classes that I visited were:

- Reading 5th grade

- Writing 5th grade

- Math 5th grade

- Science 5th grade

- Language arts 6th grade

- Science 6th grade

- Health 7th grade

I took the morning hours to observe in other classes and the afternoon to teach for myself.

The school also organised different schooltrips. one of them was to Ashland, the Shakespeare festival. We saw two different plays, Guys and Dolls and Much ado about Nothing. For the 8th grade they organised trips to a skiing area, the coast and a survival trip. Every year they are organising some trips for outdoorschool with the 6th graders. This contains science, biology, geography and sometimes even history.

Trip to Seattle

I know that the trip to the USA is very expensive. But the organisation, CICD, organises once or twice a year a conference. This is a conference just for student teachers, like us. You are going to talk about the experiences for so far, talk about new developments, etc. My stay in Seattle was complety paid. The organisation wants to do something for the students, so that is why they organise this. The only thing that I had to pay for was the travel. But your accomodation and food for the stay is covered. A really good opportunity to see he city and share your thoughts.

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