International Students

During the days of Teikyo Westmar University, LeMars was blessed to have a large number of international students. After the university closed, the number of international students decreased. 

In recent years, the number of international students at Gehlen Catholic has been on the rise thanks in part to enhanced collaboration between Gehlen Catholic and Nacel Open Door, most notably Nacel’s Coordinator, Sharon Dorr.

On average, thirteen to sixteen students from Spain, Germany, China, South Korea, Central and South America, are enrolled as high school students at Gehlen Catholic School. 

Several students live with a host family and enroll at Gehlen Catholic for just ten months through Nacel’s AYP Program. Meanwhile, a growing number of students attend Gehlen Catholic for two or all four high school years through Nacel’s PSP or other private programs. A couple of students have had older siblings in the past who attended Gehlen Catholic. 

Some students are selected by Nacel’s Coordinator to live and study at Gehlen Catholic based upon the international students’ family, where they lived, students’ co-curricular interests, appreciation of animals, and more. Other students, though, make their decisions based upon their research on the web. Students can take a virtual tour of private schools on the web. 

Gehlen Catholic is rated “#1” on a website by the Korean & Chinese students. Mrs. Dorr explained, “Families look at the costs of tuition, student to teacher ratio, educational offerings, student performance, Midwestern hospitality, as well as feedback of other international students who have previously studied at Gehlen Catholic. Yes, Gehlen Catholic is ‘#1!’” 

There are many benefits to hosting an international student, according to Dorr. Every day, you can learn something about another country and culture. Even in today’s global society, appliances, personal cares, the students understanding of the Midwest are different. When students come to the Midwest, often times they want to see “cowboys & Indians.” 

Mrs. Dorr has, on average, thirty or more international students placed primarily within a 150-mile radius of LeMars, one-third of whom are at Gehlen Catholic. Other international students placed by Mrs. Dorr are at LeMars Community, Remsen St. Mary’s and Remsen-Union, Unity and Hull Western Christian, Sioux City Public, Bishop Heelan, Sioux Center, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Elk Point-Jefferson, Ponca, Primghar, Akron-Westfield, & Marion (Eastern Iowa) Schools. 

7-12 Principal, Mr. Jeff Alesch, noted that Gehlen Catholic has been blessed each year with a great group of international students who work very hard academically. Therefore, Gehlen Catholic’s teachers do not modify or change the curriculum to meet the needs of the students. 

Mr. Alesch speaks very highly of the international program. He believes the program enhances Gehlen Catholic’s international relationships beyond its missionary efforts in Honduras, Tanzania, Cuba, and more. “The international students & program create a shared culture through the elementary and high school grades. With the increased number of Gehlen Catholic graduates, like Brian Singer (’89), Catherine Withrow (’01), Jill Vonnahme (’05), Lizzie Ryan (’06) & Sarah Gengler (’08), working, studying, and/or serving abroad, it is important that Gehlen Catholic provides our students a variety experiences to communicate, learn, & serve in today’s global society.” 

For more information on hosting an international student, please call Sharon Dorr at 712-546-4911.

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