Although the fall season represents a slowing down of nature, autumn is an exciting time at ESLI! The academic staff’s favorite part of working at ESLI is welcoming students to the United States and Canada, their new home state or province, and their new school. We focus on the bravery and tenacity of our students who are willing to leave their home countries, say goodbye to their families, and board a plane heading for North America. No matter what a student’s educational background is or how well he or she speaks English, that transcontinental flight represents a bold decision made in the name of adventure. We respect and honor this boldness by being the first people to meet students, take them shopping, and get them settled in their new dorm room or apartment. Being a warm and understanding presence is such an important part of our work at the beginning of each term.
Fall is also an exciting time on the university campuses where our ESLI locations are housed. Right now, I can hear outside my window the university band practicing for the next home football game. When I walk from my car to the office, I see students in matching t-shirts representing different sororities, fraternities, and student organizations. Our campus communities go to great strides to welcome students, and the staff at our ESLI schools encourage our students to participate in these activities, as well as on- and off-campus clubs, groups, festivals, and events. Whether it’s a play production from the drama department, a basketball or hockey game, or a language club that meets once a month, being a part of the university can improve students’ English and introduce their North American peers to a new culture and different perspectives.
Different perspectives are a part of the enriched environment of ESLI. Our staff introduces students to the fall holidays that many North Americans treasures. Halloween comes around first in the United States and shortly after Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving; Halloween and early fall usually mean field trips to apple orchards, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, costumes, and perhaps a showing of a Halloween movie like Hocus Pocus
Thanksgiving is all about the food, sharing a turkey and all the sides, as well as what we are thankful for that year. All of our schools take breaks over the winter holidays, but the cooler weather and occasional snow in certain areas allow students to ride sleds, sip hot cocoa, and build snowmen. Just as we introduce students to our holidays, we enjoy learning about theirs. Whether we’re celebrating Chuseok with our Korean students or Eid al-Adha with our Muslim students, holidays allow our students to teach us about their culture, share in their traditions, and let us taste their delicious food.
The new academic year reminds us that there are opportunities to learn, open our minds to new ideas and perspectives, and welcome the changes that occur in ourselves as we interact with each other, make friends, and build community. We welcome you to ESLI!