LEWISTON –Niagara University has made it a goal to reach out and welcome students from across the world, including 18 international students who spent eight weeks at Niagara this summer in an “English Summer Camp” designed to acclimate them to American culture and language.
Twelve students also participated in 2014, the first time this program was offered at Niagara.
This summer, 12 students from China, five from Vietnam and one from Korea, ranging in age from 16 to 22, participated. For some, this was the first time they had ever visited the United States. They came to learn the language and about American culture and also to experience life at an American university.
The English Summer Camp program was designed by Niagara President Rev. James J. Maher as a vehicle to establish the institution as a worldwide brand and to increase international student enrollment.
“At Niagara University, we are creating an environment that allows students from all backgrounds and cultures to work with one another, and these experiences will be critical as they graduate into an increasingly globalized workplace,” noted Maher, who made time to join the campers at a cookout.
He said the university also hopes to take a greater role in developing the Western New York economy by introducing young people from East Asian countries to the beauty, hospitality and dynamism of the region.
Student who attended the camp received language instruction and were given a chance to practice conversation, reading and writing. They worked with coaches in the language technology lab.
Dr. Debra T. Curtis, director of Niagara’s Center for Events Management and Development, oversaw the program.
Niagara hospitality majors organized the group’s daily cultural, recreational and enriching activities, which highlighted the sights and sounds of summer in Western New York. The campers rode the Maid of the Mist, watched fireworks at Niagara Falls State Park, hiked in Devil’s Hole State Park, attended an Artpark production of “Peter Pan” and took part in a Niagara alumni event. In addition, they participated in the Color Run at Canalside in Buffalo.
The campers also were given opportunities to interact with American peers who were participating in enrichment and tourism training programs.
The participants lived on campus and were given a certificate of completion indicating their level of proficiency.
“Niagara University is such a beautiful place, with comfortable weather and gorgeous buildings,” Nguyen Hai Anh of Vietnam said in a press release. “And the blue water, sailboats and lighthouses at Canalside were so beautiful. It was like a movie. I couldn’t imagine it was real,” she added.
Several campers were reportedly making plans to matriculate at Niagara, as early as January.
Dr. Debra A. Colley, executive vice president at Niagara, said she wants these students to go home and spread the word about Niagara, Western New York and most of all the vibrant American spirit of the people who live in the region.