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Calvin To Host Almost 30 Asian Students
June 29, 2006

This summer, for the second straight year, Calvin College will host a contingent of Asian students who are eager to improve their mastery of the English language and to get a little dose of American culture.

From July 5 to August 4 the college's English Study Program will host 28 students, including 27 from Korea and one from China.

The students will live and study on the Calvin campus for a month and enjoy the program's cultural events, including weekend visits to Chicago and to Mackinaw Island, bowling, movies, the Frederick Meijer Botanical Gardens and a visit to a West Michigan Whitecaps game! The students are also hosted by families from the Calvin community for dinners and weekend stays and worship at Grand Rapids churches.

But while the off-campus outings are both fun and valuable, it's what happens in the classroom that makes the program significant say Calvin organizers. The program's central focus is on improving the students' competence in speaking English.

"The students make it all worthwhile," says Lisa Bauman, director of the English Study Program. "Last year was hectic, but it's all worth it because of the students. They really want to be here, work hard and take advantage of as many opportunities as they can."

The program provides classes in both English speech and advanced English communication.

"What we heard from these students is they can read and write English, no problem, but the opportunity to speak it and listen to native speakers is a huge draw for them," Bauman says. "So in their courses, one of the things they were looking for is the opportunity to speak and to listen with native speakers of English."

A new feature of the program this year is a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) preparation course. The course will train the students to take the TOEFL test, a requirement of for a non-native applicant at an American or English-speaking college or university.

The program ends with a celebratory dinner, hosted by Calvin president Gaylen Byker and his wife, Susan.

It's both a nice opportunity for the students to meet the president, Bauman says, and a fitting end to the program.

"Basically the whole start of this came from President Byker wanting to get Calvin in the global education community," she says.

Indeed the English Study Program grew out of Calvin's growing relationship with Korea's Handong Global University. Calvin professors from several departments formed a committee that planned the program that brought the first 28 students from Handong here last summer. Organizers hope to offer the program to students at whole range of Asian colleges and universities in the future.

Meantime, Bauman says she is looking forward to the program's sophomore year

"They're the most amazing young people," Bauman says. "I know that all of us involved last year were just touched by their earnestness to know God's will for their lives."

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson