The College of Staten Island’s Center for International Service English Language Institute (ELI) Summer Culture Day 2013 was made all the more special because this class was the first to host English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers from Thai Nguyen University of Technology (TNUT) in Thai Nguyen,Vietnam.
Three times per year, the CSI ELI celebrates Culture Day, a day where ELI students get to show off their sharply honed English language skills as well as share their love for their native cultures through presentations, food, and in the case of this summer’s ELI Culture Day, song.
The two Vietnamese teachers were the first participants from a partnership between CSI and TNUT, made possible by a CSI delegation visit to TNUT in January 2013 consisting of Dr. Deborah Vess, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Academic Programs; Barbara A. Clark, then Interim Executive Director of the Center for International Service; and Dr. Jessica Jiang, Associate Professor in Engineering Science and Physics.
In April 2013, the TNUT delegation visited CSI to sign the formal agreement between the two institutions that includes the potential for collaborations at all levels, with faculty, staff, and students.
The Vietnamese teachers, Hong Anh Thi and Thi Tham Hoang, enrolled in our English Language Institute (ELI) as part of a Professional Development Training Program designed by the Center for International Service. The customized program is designed to enhance English language skills, and convey methods of teaching ESL, the cultural aspects of the U.S. classroom, and life in the United States.
Hong Anh Thi, who, along with her fellow ESL teacher, is staying with a host family on Staten Island, said she enrolled in the program in order to increase her study methods and improve her English language skills, which will translate to her ability to teach English to Vietnamese students. “The teachers at ELI are very creative and use humor as a great method to make their students very comfortable,” she said of the tactics that the ELI staff use that most impressed her.
The Vietnamese teachers were not the only ones presenting during Culture Day. As is usually the case with ELI’s Culture Day, the student presentations were as diverse and interesting as the students themselves.
Paulina Borowska, from Poland, introduced the group to the six Polish Noble Prize winners, including Marie Curie, who was also the first woman to win the prestigious award. From Russia, Svetlana Filatova, highlighted her home country’s major tourist attractions as did Saad Khtour, who presented his home city of Daklha, Morroco, as a go-to destination for surfing and fishing.
It was, however, Jefrey Reanda, of Guatemala who stole the show. He studied at the CSI ELI to take part in all that being close to NYC has to offer and to learn a New York accent because he felt it “has value in the world. It gives others a sense of your position wherever you are.” Jefrey focused his presentation on the music of Guatemala, highlighting its place in Guatemalan culture and history. The big treat came when he sang “Luna de Telajú,” a famous Guatemalan song written by Paco Perez.
As always, the CSI ELI Culture Day introduced several new cultures and perspectives to CSI and the new partnership formed between CSI and TNUT will only strengthen with each coming cohort.
The English Language Institute’s Culture Day is imbuded with cultural enrichment, as students from around the globe share their native customs, traditions, and more. Culture Day is an excellent forum for cross-cultural exchange between ELI students and CSI students and allows ELI students to showcase their English-speaking skills to each other and the ELI faculty and staff.