WAITING FOR PHOTOS
This article was originally published in the fall 2012 Harker Quarterly.
Harker’s 2012 English Language Institute (ELI) program kicked off with a welcome reception for ELI participants and their guardians on June 24 and ran until mid-August.
The globally recognized program attracts international students ages 6-16 who are bound for either American boarding schools, universities or internationally-based, primarily English-speaking schools. They come to ELI to prepare for and increase their chances of admission to their next educational institution.
“ELI is a smart thing, and a good idea. It’s a unique opportunity,” said Joe Rosenthal, Harker’s executive director of advancement. Rosenthal noted, “In our culture we place great emphasis on finding meaningful work and helping to make the world a better place.” He noted former ELI participant Alexander Wang MS ’98, now a major figure in the fashion world, quickly worked his way into regular Harker classes after spending time in the ELI program when young.
The most advanced ELI students, usually middle and high school-aged, stay at the Saratoga campus and work on special projects tailored to their needs, including SAT preparation. They are assisted by mentors (called buddies or conversation partners) who are Harker juniors, seniors or recent graduates. For the younger ELI students, instruction takes place at Harker’s lower school campus. At the conclusion of formal instruction each day, learning for these students continues with enrichment programs, such as swimming and playing games. Often they are able to join in activities with children attenting the regular on-site summer camp, allowing them to have fun while improving language skills. They also enjoy outings to such kid-friendly locations as “Pump it Up!”
On field trip days ELI students of all ages can be seen sporting green program T-shirts as they head out for cultural adventures to such diverse attractions as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Exploratorium, Academy of Science, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Santa Cruz Natural Bridges State Park and the Tech museum.
Often times these children are so busy having fun, the learning doesn’t even feel like hard work. “I like reading and playing with my friends,” enthused ELI first-timer Lily Yang, 8, who came to the program knowing little english. At the end of their time at Harker, ELI students, upon full completion of either a three- or seven-week course, are eligible to receive a certificate (handed out during an official closing ceremony) and recommendation from their teachers. They will also have likely gained new friendships and increased confidence in their ability to travel, speak and learn in the U.S.