CSI’s English Language Institute recently held its Spring Culture Day, which is a celebration of diversity.

CSI’s English Language Institute (ELI) held its Spring Culture Day in the Campus Center Green Dolphin Lounge. The event is a celebration of the diverse heritages of the students participating in the Institute’s intensive English program.

Over the years, CSI has hosted thousands of students from all walks of life seeking degrees in hundreds of different majors. One often overlooked yet quite significant function of the College is to serve as an ambassador to people from around the world. CSI’s ELI welcomes students from around the world to learn English within a U.S. cultural context.  The CSI campus, its faculty, facilities, and even students are all part of the English language learning process with the purpose of training the ELI students in not only English usage but also in what it means to  live in a U.S. city as vast and diverse as New York.

The English Language Institute’s Culture Day is an event steeped in cultural enrichment. Diversity is celebrated as students from around the globe provide a meaningful learning experience as they share their native customs, traditions, and more. Culture Day is an excellent forum for cross-cultural exchange between ELI students and CSI students. The event allows ELI students to showcase their English-speaking skills to each other and the ELI faculty and staff.

In this and many other ways, the CSI campus community is enriched by the inclusion of these bright, young individuals.  “ELI students enrich all of our lives,” said Joanne Riggio, the ELI Academic Coordinator. “Their contributions to the campus community are innumerable.”

“I have so much more confidence now,” said Lisbeth Chionchio, ELI student and emcee of Culture Day event. “These teachers are so great; I can speak so much more fluently than I could before I attended the ELI.” Chionchio began attending the ELI in 2010 when she was in Staten Island visiting a friend. She says that her fondest memory of the ELI is of meeting her American husband while studying here. Chionchio, who graduated May 4, says she is “sad to leave ELI  but excited about what the future will hold.”

The Culture Day event is the perfect culmination of all of the hard work that the ELI students, faculty, and staff put in throughout the semester. The interactive nature of the program is obvious during the presentations as students consistently offer support to each other, as well as share a few laughs. There was an extra bit of laughter as Soyean Park, one of the ELI students attempted to teach the attendees how to play “Yutnori,” the traditional Korean board game. Park even tested the audience with questions about the rules of the game after her presentation and handed out prizes to the winners.

During the presentations, the confidence of the students was impressive, especially since many of them had only joined the program a few months earlier.  By the time the presentations had ended, the audience had learned about Korean Wave music or K-Pop, Beijing architecture, and even food from Syria.

“We get a real sense of joy seeing our students succeed,” said Diane Viggiano, and ELI teacher. The ELI’s focus on lending support, developing one-on-one communications skills, and including conversational partners helps make CSI the go-to destination for learning English. It also does not hurt that CSI is located so close to such an international and vibrant city–an added advantage for ELI students who enjoy these opportunities through excursions throughout the semester. In addition, for many ELI students, the goal is entry to CSI.