As an immersive language program, NSLI-Y helps American youth become part of local communities abroad. As a result, long-lasting friendships are made. These friendships between peers from around the world increase mutual understanding and prepare this next generation of global citizens to be global leaders. Here are some highlights from the 2017 summer programs featuring interactions between NSLI-Y students and local peers.
On July 19th, the NSLI-Y Chinese students participated in a special event with prominent members of the Xiamen community and local high school students at the Binhai Neighborhood Committee Headquarters. The hosts in Binhai graciously set up a number of cultural stations at their community center to give the students a lesson in traditional Chinese culture. At these various stations, students learned how to prepare porcupine shaped red-bean buns, how to write the character 福 (Fu, meaning fortune) in stylized calligraphy, and how to perform a traditional tea ceremony. After the students finished going through the stations, they watched a series of culturally-oriented performances by members of the Binhai community and NSLIY participants. In addition to Kung Fu and Tai Qi demonstrations, community members treated the students to musical compositions on the Er Hu and the Gourd Flute. Some NSLIY students did a riveting rendition of 小星星 (Xiao Xing Xing, more commonly known in English as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…) on the Ocarina and impressed everyone with Xinjiang dance and Tai Qi performances. To conclude the visit to the Binhai Neighborhood Association Headquarters, NSLIY students and local peers exchanged gifts and best wishes.
For the 5th week of the program, the NSLI-Y Korean participants had many opportunities to experience Korean high school life through local students from Bakmun Girls High School and Incheon International High School. At Bakmun Girls High School, the NSLI-Y students made Baguni baskets with hanji (Korean traditional paper). While working on their Hanji crafts, both Korean and American students had more opportunities to learn about each other. Students also participated in debate sessions on various topics like education, popular culture, teenagers in the digital age, school life, and college admission. Additionally, the students visited the DMZ and the underground tunnel made by North Korea. Students felt and talked about the tension between North and South Korea that they had not yet felt during their stay in Korea. The visit was an opportunity to discuss and seriously think about the inter-Korean relations and US intervention in the middle of lingering tension in the region.
From July 16-18, NSLI-Y Arabic students participated in the 23rd annual iEARN Conference and 20th Youth Summit in Marrakech. The students gave a 30-minute presentation on their experiences so far in Morocco and offered advice on learning inside and outside of the classroom while abroad to a group of their peers. The experience was particularly meaningful for the students as they connected with similar youth passionate about learning languages and working on projects across cultures and countries. The students were inspired by a presentation from Mohamed Sidibay entitled “The power of quality education in changing lives and the danger of a mind kept in captivity,” about his experiences as a child soldier in Sierra Leone and his journey to the US. Several students enjoyed sharing lunch with Mohamed during the conference.
A favorite group activity for the NSLI-Y Russian participants is learning Russian songs. Practicing Russian songs is a part of the students’ classes, their extracurricular activities, and their free time. Participant Desmond says that “learning Russian songs is important to me because they are fun to learn, allow me to learn Russian faster… and help my pronunciation. My favorite would be all of them because they are just too catchy!” Participants recently showed off their skills during a talent show which marked the end of their stay with Russian peers in a hostel. As students move to live with their host families, there will be many more songs to come!
The NSLI-Y Russian students are continuing to work hard on their language acquisition in class and with their peer language partners and host families. The group went inside the Kremlin complex, visiting Cathedral Square (Archangel and Dormition Cathedral), the Troitskaya Tower and bridge, and the Kremlin grounds. The group also visited the Skolkovo Institute, a high tech university in the planned community of Skolkovo.
The highlight of the week for the NSLI-Y Russian participants in Moscow was a full day activity with Russian peers. The group visited a summer residential program for gifted local high school students interested in studying language, computers, and theater. The NSLI-Y participants and Russian peers participated in many activities together and by the end of the day had made new friends. Spending the day at the residential program on the outskirts of Moscow was an excellent opportunity for the NSLI-Y students to use their newly acquired Russian language skills with their peers in a variety of activities.