International Education Week (IEW) is a joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of State and Education and is celebrated in more than 100 countries worldwide. IEW is meant to generate enthusiasm, broaden horizons, spark new dialogues, and encourage new ideas to expand international perspectives. Boston University’s Global Programs celebrated IEW from November 12th through the 22nd by holding different events around campus.
On November 18th, BU Global Programs, CELOP, Study Abroad, ISSO and Marsh Chapel joined together to host the “Cultural Exchange: Ideas, Questions and Stories from Around the World” event. The event was well attended by many students and held in BU’s George Sherman Union.
The event was a cross between an information fair and speed-dating. The activities were designed to introduce international exchange students, including CELOP students, here on campus to those who are preparing to study abroad or take part in an exchange program. Students walking into the event were treated to a language exchange from native speakers from Lebanon, Japan, China and Germany. Students then rotated from one table to the next in order to learn about the culture from the different countries represented at each table.
The cultural exchange was indeed a university-wide celebration of BU’s global engagement.
CELOP recently held its Seventh Annual College and University Fair on October 22nd. A majority of the students that attend CELOP choose the “English for Academic Purposes” concentration. Many of these students hope to begin undergraduate or graduate programs in the Boston area. This fair offered students the opportunity to meet with representatives from a variety of local colleges and universities to help answer questions and determine if their school would be a good match.
Student who recently completed high school and others with a Bachelor’s degree from their home countries came out in high numbers. The fair was well attended and as many as 80 students filled the lobby, making sure to review information booklets and fill out information cards. Colleges and universities that offered both undergraduate and graduate programs sent representatives who helped answer questions about either degree.
All CELOP students have access to academic advising with a dedicated advisor. Faculty are also committed to helping students improve their English to meet their academic goals. The College and University Fair is just one example of how CELOP provides students with opportunities to further their academic career.
CELOP welcomed hundreds of students from over 35 countries for the Fall 2013 Semester. A majority of the students checked-in over two days on September 18th and 19th. The check-in process started with the Admissions staff checking immigration information and making sure each students was registered for their preferred program. As students checked-in, they also met with CELOP faculty and advisors to get help and advice on their classes. However, it wasn’t all about class as CELOP’s Student Life Coordinator was there to tell students about exciting activities and tours around Boston and Boston University.
Many students also showed up for the Welcome Party on Friday, September 20th. There was food, music and even games. Students were given an “ice-breaker” game that encouraged them to introduce themselves and speak with someone they had not met yet. Prizes, including CELOP t-shirts, were given out to students that won the game.
CELOP welcomes all our new and continuing students and we hope you have a great fall semester!
This summer, CELOP partnered with the Boston University College of Engineering to offer a Global Engineering Career Readiness Program. The customized, four-week program was designed to establish a foundation for both academic and workplace success for international Master of Engineering students through intensive English language and cultural immersion.
The program focused on oral and written communication in technology and product development, US and academic culture, skills for successful graduate study and a global career preparation, including job searching, resume writing and interviewing. CELOP faculty assessed students in the areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing and provided a comprehensive evaluation upon completion of the program.
Kirstie Miller, Director of Professional Education & Corporate Relations at the College of Engineering, worked collaboratively with CELOP to launch the program. She praised the success of the program and said, “The Global Engineering Career Readiness program was designed to support our growing population of international students as they acclimate to the English language, US culture, and academic and workplace expectations. As a result of the program, these students have acquired a set of communication skills and knowledge which will set them up for success, both while at BU and in their eventual professional careers. We are thrilled with the results and have no doubt this program is poised for growth.”
The students also completed course evaluations and expressed positive feedback. As one student wrote, “Yes I would recommend this program to other international engineering students because it helps with adjusting academically and socially and gives a great feel of the environment at BU.”
This summer, approximately 83% of the conditionally admitted students at CELOP were fully admitted to Boston University for the fall 2013 semester.
The graduating class of 2017 saw a 39% increase in international applications, many from China, South Korea and India. Many more internationals students were given conditional admission to BU. Conditionally Admitted students are reconsidered for full admission, once they meet the TOEFL score requirements of their degree program. Conditionally admitted students are recommended to attend CELOP for intensive academic English language instruction.
The faculty at CELOP prepare these students by providing intensive English language instruction along with cultural and academic orientation. At the end of their CELOP program, students take the TOEFL ITP. The results of the TOEFL ITP and the evaluations from the CELOP classes, help BU International Admissions determine if these students should gain full admission to BU.
We congratulate these students and applaud all of their hard work and efforts. We wish them all the best as fully admitted students to Boston University’s class of 2017.
Students come to CELOP to improve their English but teachers and educators also come to improve their skills.
For five years, CELOP has worked together with the Comunidad de Madrid to bring educators from Spain to CELOP’s Intensive English Training Program for Educators. It’s a four-week program that focuses on four areas: English for Academic Purposes, English for Classroom Teachers, New Ideas in Teaching, and Field Trips & Activities.
The program is taught by a group of experienced CELOP teacher trainers, many of whom have worked with the Madrid teachers in previous years. Teaching practitioners from several Massachusetts public schools are also invited to share their experience and teaching ideas.
Striving to empower both students and teachers for the classroom – it’s all part of our mission.
The arrival of new CELOP students was celebrated at a welcome party, after the students participated in a hard but exhilarating scavenger hunt that helped them learn more about Boston University’s campus. The party included food items like sushi, cheese, fruit, and sandwiches. Some CELOP faculty and staff were introduced to the students, and students got to know one another by playing a bingo game. “Do you speak more than three languages?” and “Do you have 20 cousins or more?” were some questions students asked of one another as they learned more about each other.
This activity and others like it can build a sense of “home away from home” for students. Jasim Alsaifi, a new CELOP student from Kuwait, talked about this. “It’s friendly. I don’t feel like I am away from my home. I feel like I am at home. Everyone cooperates with me and helps me – students, teachers, or staff. Everyone is happy with this activity.” Judging from the comfortable smiles and laughter shared at the party, Jasim was right.
Students checked in to CELOP began their classes this week to start their 6 week and 12 week summer programs.
Recently, students of an English for Science and Technology core class presented on their research projects at a poster presentations event. Held in the CELOP lobby, topics included neon lighting, left/right brain, biofuel, the future of energy, and bromidrophobia (the fear of body odors).
CELOP teacher Eileen Kramer, who organized the event, said that she prepared the students by looking at pictures of effective posters and discussing format and organization. Co-teacher Nora Smith took the class on a field trip to BU Scholar Day to see the engineering posters. Students did research on their topics, and helped one another create their posters and practice talking to an audience. Finally, Eileen made sure that the event was well attended by CELOP students, faculty, and staff. “I wanted to throw in the unexpected,” she said, “for them to see what it’s like to have academic conversations they can’t anticipate, unlike a canned PowerPoint presentation.” The students appeared to handle this well. Attendees engaged the student presenters in conversation about their topics, and they responded with confidence and authority. “They’re really good,” reacted CELOP teacher Gregg Singer. John Kopec, also a CELOP teacher, echoed Gregg’s sentiment, saying that “they really understand their topics.”
Some students took their posters home to show family and friends. Others donated their posters to Eileen for use in future science and technology projects. Following the poster presentation, the students reflected on the assignment and agreed unanimously that it was a valuable experience. As one student commented, “I know I’ll do this again in classes and when I’m an engineer so it will help me when that day comes. I won’t be afraid to show my work.”
The Kazakh New Year, called Nauryz, is celebrated on the day of the Spring equinox. It marks reconciling the old, and celebrating new life promised by the oncoming spring season. As the weather warms in Boston, and trees begin to bud, Kazakh students at CELOP and their classmates had their own Nauryz celebration in the CELOP lobby one recent afternoon. We asked some members of the CELOP community to share their impressions with us.
“I liked the tug of war,” commented CELOP Senior Program Coordinator Spencer Hitchner. “I did participate and win, but I was glad that they were including audience members in the festival.” Spencer said that the audience participation made the event particularly memorable.
“I liked the dances. It was very well executed,” remarked CELOP Front Desk staff Mia Ballan. “The deejays were also very good.”
“I liked seeing the Kazakh families that came to the event with their young children,” said Melanie Greitzer, CELOP Academic Programs Manager. “They brought a nice sense of community and family to the event.”
“Before I came here, I didn’t know about Kazakhstan. I just know the name,” commented Sonoka Ishikawa, a CELOP student from Ryukoku University in Japan. “It’s a good opportunity to learn about Kazakhstan.”
CELOP Student Life Coordinator Shelley Bertolino played a small advisory role to the Kazakh students who organized the event. “It was a really successful short cultural capsule. In that short amount of time, we got a very good taste of Kazakhstan. We got to learn about their traditions, we got to see a wedding ceremony, singing, dancing, and the tug of war.” Shelley was very impressed with the students’ preparations for the event, and commented that the execution was “organized”, and “polished”.
Nauryz is celebrated annually on March 22nd. According to the Kazakh embassy website, Nauryz celebrations today include a mixture of old and new, ranging from traditional events to rock concerts. “Anything goes in marking Nauryz…the more festive, the better”1.
“If a friend accidentally spilled coffee on your computer, how do you react?” Dr. Mariko Henstock asked her third year Japanese II class on a Friday afternoon to act out the scenario in a role play. The majority of the American students in the class demanded that their friend pay for the damage. The Japanese students, who were visiting the class that day, were in shock by this. In contrast to their American counterparts, they had no expectation that the other person should pay for it, and responded “it’s okay” when it was their turn to role play. “They experienced the huge difference in culture,” Henstock explained about the activity after class. “Both sides learned a lot, and both sides were so excited.”
Dr. Henstock, as the Director of Outreach and Co-Curricular Activities for Japanese at the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature, regularly organizes language exchange activities with CELOP, and recently presented on this topic at the Boston University (BU) Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching (CEIT) 2013 Instructional Innovation Conference. Titled “Examining the Bi-Directional Benefits of Language Exchanges”, the presentation discussed the benefits of Lunch Exchanges and Exchange Classes. According to a survey of CELOP students who took part in Fall 2012, 97% of CELOP students agreed that the exchanges have motivated them to study more English, increased their confidence to speak English, and that now they want to come back to BU even more because of the exchanges. Henstock highlighted some CELOP students’ comments in her presentation: “it is a lot easier to talk during class visits,” “not just learning Japanese and English language, but also learning partners’ thinking and character, etc. will help me in my life,” and “what is surprising is that my common sense isn’t common sense in the US.”
You can get the sense from talking to Professor Henstock that the benefits go deeper than practice with listening and speaking. “Ever since I came to [the US], I always was thinking I want to help the friendships between the two countries,” she explains. For Henstock, friendships can translate to real world change. She cites an example about a BU student giving a speech at MIT about challenging stereotypes. “What he is saying is he had this stereotype of Japanese people just wanting to be alone and isolated. He didn’t really have any contact with Japanese people, and so through lunch exchanges and class visits he met Japanese students and then thought, oh they are so fun, and nice. So the theme of his paper is about challenging stereotypes.” If friendship has the power to break down stereotypes, and promote understanding between groups of people, then the exchanges are doing a very good job of that – 97% of CELOP students that took part agreed that they made BU student friends through the exchanges. “We can potentially change people’s lives, and I think we have succeeded in that regard for a number of students. There are so many problems internationally; if we can make a difference, one person at a time, and help form friendships, then that’s just a wonderful gift.”
Dr. Henstock’s presentation abstract and slides can be found and downloaded on the CEIT Fifth Annual Instructional Innovation Conference website.