By Julia Kirk
Imagine living in a foreign place with the hopes of learning a new language and receiving an education. The experience would most likely be a life-changing one that is unforgettable.
That’s what is happening at Rider for about 75 international students who are enrolled in the new English Language Institute (ELI) program, which ensures that the students learn English before transitioning to another college after the fall semester. The students spend most of their time here preparing for an English language proficiency test that they must pass to complete the program.
Some of the students arrived here with absolutely no English speaking skills, while others were able to speak very little English before attending Rider., according to Kim Cameron, assistant to the director of the Center for International Education,
“The ELI offers two different programs — the Intensive English Program (IEP) and the Pre-Graduate Business Program,” said Christiana Kunyczka, director of International Admissions. “The Brazilian students are a part of the IEP and their classes focus on developing their English skills while they have a full course load.”
There were 25 Brazilians selected to come to Rider because it is a host organization for a Brazilian government program. All students who are a part of this program will be taking a full course load of classes.
“These students are part of a program called Brazil Scientific Mobility Program,” Kunyczka said. “This program is sponsored by the Brazilian government and it selects academically qualified students to study in the U.S. and other countries. Rider applied to become a host institution, and we were selected to participate in this program. The students were matched with the host institution by the International Institute of Education.”
Some of the students will be transferring after the fall semester, but others, who came to Rider with almost no English speaking skills, will be staying for an entire year until their English is at a passing level. Because most of these Brazilian students are engineering majors, and Rider does not offer this major, many of the Brazilian students will transfer to another school when the current semester is over in December.
One of the ELI students, Guilherme Carvalho, is particularly enjoying his stay at Rider.
“There are great facilities for students to get involved and work out, and great offices and staff to help,” he said. “Everyone from the CIE and ELI are always ready to help me with everything I need.”
Carvalho is also enjoying his social life and acclimating to the new culture.
“Most of the times when I say, ‘I’m from Brazil,’ the students come to talk to me and invite me to hang out with them,” he said. “It is hard to get to a place where you don’t know exactly how things work, but everyone has helped me since day one here. It can be a simple social gathering at the Pub, or it can be a guide on how to do laundry or how to shop for winter.”
Carvalho said that he is enjoying the inviting nature of the programs at Rider.
“Here, everyone is encouraged to get involved and enjoy their free time doing something in college,” Carvalho said. “Back at home, we don’t have that coming from the university. Sometimes the students get together to do something, but they are all on their own.”
Another ELI student, Bruna Bernardes da Silva, elaborated on the success she has had at Rider so far.
“I like the way people here are kind and welcoming, always trying to involve us in all activities, and willing to build a real friendship with international students,” she said. “There were many welcoming parties for us, and several Rider students are always around us, trying to help with anything we might need. They’re kind and nice, and I’m totally comfortable with my new friends here.”
Cameron is thrilled about the results of the new program.
“It’s growing, and there are even more students coming in October,” she said. “We do not know which schools they will transfer to after this semester, but I do know that about 14 are planning to stay on now.”