International students immersed in Camrose community
Posted on April 13, 2015 by Christopher Thrall
By engaging with the community, students gain valuable language and interpersonal skills with native speakers.
By Brittney Johnson
International students coming to Augustana face a dual challenge. They not only face the university experience for the first time, but many are learning to speak and study in their second or third language. To ensure their success, Augustana offers the opportunity for students who do not meet the University’s English language requirements to pursue their educational goals through a language and university studies Bridging Program.
Part of the Augustana Bridging Program involves student participation in Community Service-Learning placements in the Camrose community under the mentorship of Feisal Kirumura, German instructor and International Student Liaison. These placements provide opportunities to build connections with residents and a sense of belonging, not just to Augustana but to Camrose as a whole. Students engage in a diverse range of experiences, from the Senior’s Dance Club to the Early Literacy Program at the Camrose Public Library.
The goal of the CSL-Bridging Program is to better transition students into life in Canada. By engaging with the community, students gain valuable language and interpersonal skills with native speakers. Feisal Kirumura says, “This program helps international students not just adjust, but to discover life in another country.”
Jonasson Liu, a student involved in the Augustana Bridging Program, has been attending weekly sessions with the Senior’s Dance Club. He says, “There is always so much work to do as university students. The placements give us a reason to go outside and have fun. It is entertainment for us, and also a way to broaden our horizons.” Liu says that the seniors have helped to minimize culture shock. “They treat us like we are their grandchildren,” he smiles. “We are there to learn how to dance, but the important part is the friendships we make with the members of the club.”
Through these programs, students discover that they have greater English proficiency than they thought. They are able to interact with and to learn alongside community members. They gain confidence in their ability to embrace a full course load following the completion of their Bridging Program year.
After her placement with the Early Literacy Program at the Camrose Public Library, Peilin Chen says, “I feel more connected to Camrose, not just to campus. It makes me feel like a member of this community.” Peilin enjoyed her placement with the children because they “are all English speaking learners” and it is a great way for both herself and the children in the community to learn together.
The insights gained from interaction with the community of Camrose equips these students to connect and sets them on the path to a successful undergraduate experience.
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