The states of Wisconsin and Hessen (Germany) signed a partnership agreement in 1976 and have cooperated in many areas in commerce, research, colleges, universities, and K-12 education programs.
The Department of Public Instruction and the Hessisches Kultusministerium (Hessen Department of Education) began a sister school program and a teacher seminar in 1990 to strengthen school partnerships and international teacher professional development. A student exchange program between both states was added in the year 2000.
Hessen-Wisconsin Student Exchange Program
The short video “Sharing Lives and Trading Places” captures the exchange experience of two students and gives a vivid description of the program.
Two participants in the 2004-05 exchange program became best friends and have been traveling together ever since. They created a presentation to celebrate ten years of friendship.
Students from Hessen and Wisconsin can apply for participation in the annual student exchange program under the following two options:
Option A: Exchange: Students from Hessen and Wisconsin are partnered for one school year and spend the first semester in Wisconsin (home stay and school) before transitioning to Hessen. Wisconsin students spend a minimum of three months and up to the full second semester with their partner (home stay and school). The program fee for this option is $450.
Option B: Hosting Only: Wisconsin students and families host a German student for the first semester of the school year without a home stay in Germany. There are no language requirements under this option. Program fees do not apply.
The main purpose of this program is to provide a rich international learning experience for participating students and host families. The safety and well-being of all participants is our first and foremost concern. The Hessen-Wisconsin Student Exchange Program operates under the guidelines of the US Department of State and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Hessisches Kultusministerium (Hessen State Education Department).
The selection of host families follows the Code of Federal Regulations. Exchange students can only be placed with families who meet these criteria. Schools and local coordinators ensure that all regulations are met. Similar regulations apply for the visit in Germany. They are enforced by DPI’s sister state education agency in Hessen.
The US Department of State has implemented a toll free number (1-866-283-9090) for host families, exchange students, and the public to report circumstances impacting the students’ health, safety, and well being during their exchange visitor programs. The Department can also be contacted at the Exchange Visitor Program on a J-1 Visa page.