The English Language Institute at Elms College welcomes 23 students from China to Western Massachusetts to explore the English language and American culture.

Elms College Hosts Chinese Middle School Students

The English Language Institute at Elms College welcomes 23 students from China to Western Massachusetts to explore English language and American culture.

Elms Hosts Chinese Middle School Students

For one week, the English Language Institute at Elms College (ELIEC) is giving 23 middle school students from China a taste of life in Western Massachusetts. They arrived on July 25 and will be here until Aug. 1, staying on campus at the College of Our Lady of the Elms, where they attend morning English classes and take part in scheduled activities on campus and at local sites. This is the program’s third summer at Elms College.

“The ELIEC program seeks to immerse the Chinese students in the English language and give them an in-depth introduction to American culture,” said program director Joyce Hampton, Ed.D. “The Chinese students may study English and read about American culture at home, but this program allows them to truly experience American life.”

The group, comprising students 13 to 16 years of age from the Experimental Middle School of Xiangyang No. 5 Secondary School in China’s Hubei province, is participating in the Elms program as part of a larger trip around the U.S. “The Chinese students will see a wide variety of the United States through their travel and sightseeing. However, ELIEC allows them to be grounded in culture through relationships and a sense of place,” Hampton said.

The students are champeroned by three teachers and administrators: the group coordinator, Professor Zhonghua (Cyril) Lei of Beijing Language and Culture University; Chen Gao, a teacher at the middle school; and Xiaoling Ai, deputy director of the Student Affairs Division at the Experimental Middle School of Xiangyang No. 6 Secondary School.

Program activities include English classes, conversation exercises, sports clinics and introductory holiday celebrations focusing on Christmas, Easter and Halloween traditions.

“For all of these young people, it is their first trip outside of China. I hope it gives them the confidence to see that we are all connected and they are part of a larger global community,” Hampton said. “Welcoming these students gives all of us great pride in sharing our community. It also gives us an opportunity to learn about a country few of us have had the opportunity to visit.”

ELIEC staff members are experienced professionals who are uniquely qualified to teach and to mentor. All of the Elms instructors speak at least one other language in addition to English, and have travelled and taught abroad.

Program director Hampton has taught ESL in college and university settings for over 20 years. She earned her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, and is currently the dean of student success and strategic initiatives at Elms College. Hampton’s specialization is designing curricula that prepare students to excel in their university studies, so that they can be successful leaders in a global environment.

ESL instructor Nancy Gadbois has a passion for teaching languages, and she has taught in schools both public and private for more than 35 years. Gadbois holds a master’s degree, and has been involved in national and international training and conferences, as both a presenter and participant. She has received many awards, including the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association Distinguished Service Award, the Grinspoon Teacher of Excellence Award, and the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques in France.

The resident advisor and student activities coordinator, Melaina Fraboni, is a graduate of Drew University with a bachelor of arts in Chinese studies and a minor in anthropology. She has a third-year knowledge of Mandarin, and has studied and completed research in China through the Freeman Foundation and her faculty mentor. This is Fraboni’s second year with the ELIEC program; she will begin her master’s degree in education at Rutger’s University in September.

To enhance the middle schoolers’ experience, ELIEC brings in area high school students, peers who are closer to the participants’ ages -- to work alongside the Chinese students as activities assistants. These young adults have a variety of interests from sports to academics, and they offer the visiting students an opportunity for a stronger connection with American youth culture.

Visit our Facebook album for a photo gallery depicting the students' visit to Elms.