THE American Academic Year Programme not only introduces students to high school life in the United States but also gives them a taste of family, social and cultural life. One of the participants in 1992-93, Cheuk Lok-man, who won the championship in the programme's scholarship contest, said the experience was unforgettable. 'Studying in America was good training for me as I learnt to communicate with people from different countries.' Lok-man added that the programme helped improve her English. 'Since there were no large Chinese communities near where I lived, I had plenty of opportunities to speak English.' The student spent one year in a high school in Montana four years ago and is now reading law at the University of Hong Kong. 'The programme helped pave my way to university,' said the first-year student. The special programme is jointly organised by the International Education Forum (IEF) and Silkway Education Service. Melody Chan, programme executive of Silkway Education Service, said the programme is designed for teenagers aged 15 to 18 who want to experience the American way of life for a year. 'This is an extraordinary opportunity for students to share cultures and make American friends,' said Ms Chan. Ms Chan said the Academic Year Programme Scholarship contest had been introduced to encourage participants to be culturally sensitive by taking part in the programme. The scholarship winner will be entitled to participate in the American Academic Year Program free of charge. The programme fee for the 1996-97 school year is US$5,900 (about $45,500). Interested students must write a slogan about the programme that is interesting and in correct English. The slogan should be signed and stamped by the school. It must be submitted together with the scholarship contest application form and preliminary application form. The application deadline is March 30. IEF, an American non-profit-making educational and cultural organisation, has been designated as a sponsor for exchange programmes by the United States Information Agency. It has been evaluated by the Council of Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET). According to the 1993-94 CSIET advisory list, IEF is the largest exchange organisation in the United States, bringing 7,410 foreign students to America on various cultural programmes in the past two years. During the year, students live with an American host families and attend an American high school for 10 months. During their stay, the school-family-student relationship is carefully monitored by an IEF community co-ordinator. The programme is open for registration now. For more information, call 2736 6882.