ESL students find a second home in Centennial

By Alex Gomez

This year’s international students look forward to their new experience living on campus at Rider, but Gee Hall isn’t the only dorm building where they will reside.

Centennial House, once the home of the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is now being used to house 12 international students who are part of Rider’s English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Language Institute (ELI) programs. The goal of ELI is to help prepare students to enter as either undergraduate or graduate students once they meet the English requirements of the University, according to Mary Amato, manager of ELI.

Centennial House became the residence hall specifically for students in Rider’s English Language Institute to help them build a sense of community.

“The international student population is a growing segment of the Rider community,” Amato said. “It makes sense to provide a campus experience and help these students acclimate to American and university culture.”

There wasn’t much renovation that had to be done to accommodate the new international students living in Centennial House, because of the fact that it was once a residence hall.  The basement has been converted from offices to a lounge area, kitchen, laundry room and classrooms where the ELI students are taught English, according to Amato.

“With the ability to incorporate their classrooms in the basement floor, it became the most logical next step to create a residence hall for this student population,” Amato said.
The class size is about five students, allowing them to receive individual attention and is smaller than Rider’s average class size of 25 students, according to the University’s website.

Xiaoyi Zhu and Wenjin Wei, both from China, explained why they enjoy living in Centennial Hall rather than the other international dorm.

From left, Yangjian Huang, Leng Jie and Chaofan Lin, residents of Centennial House, attend a trip to a Philadelphia Phillies game hosted by Rider.



Zhu discussed how warm Gee Hall could get, since she has spent time there for events for an international program she is involved with, and how it compares to Centennial Hall.

“We have air conditioning here,” Zhu said. “It’s better than Gee Hall.”

“Most of our friends live here, which makes it easier for us to see and study with our fellow classmates,” Wei said.

Both Zhu and Wei like living in Centennial House with others of the same culture since it allows them to better communicate and adapt to their new surroundings.
In October, 10 students from Saudi Arabia will be moving in, expanding the international population at Rider, according to Zhu and Wei0. Centennial House will become their home away from home as well as they adapt to college life in America.

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