State Department selects Washington University to host EducationUSA Academy

Collaborative effort in Arts & Sciences prepares international students for American college experience

Cindy Brantmeier (center), professor of applied linguistics and education in the Department of Education in Arts & Sciences, worked with graduate students Huan Liu (left) and Haley Dolosic to plan the Education USA curriculum.

Thanks to a collaborative effort from Arts & Sciences’ Summer School Programs and its Department of Education, Washington University in St. Louis is one of 10 American higher education institutions chosen from among 50 to host the EducationUSA Academy.

The summer initiative, in its first full year of operation, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and its cooperative partner, World Learning. It provides an immersive environment designed to prepare high school students from around the globe who aspire to attend an American college or university.

Washington University’s winning proposal was a joint effort led by Pat Matthews, associate dean and director of Summer School in University College, with contributions from Becki Baker, director of Pre-College Programs in University College, who will administer the program; and Cindy Brantmeier, professor of education and applied linguistics, who will direct the language acquisition component of the program.

The curriculum is heavily grounded in research conducted in applied linguistics in the education department. Doctoral students Haley Dolosic and Huan Liu will be responsible for major elements of the program, with the former handling lead instructor duties for the English as Second Language (ESL) component, and the latter overseeing the cultural immersion requirements.

As a result, the high school students won’t be the only ones benefiting from the program.

“This presents an exceptional opportunity for our doctoral students in education to gain valuable experience in teaching international students while simultaneously collecting data for research purposes,” Brantmeier said. “This program allows them to transcend theory and lab experiments by specifying immediate and corresponding implications for teaching and learning.”

The cohort of international students selected for Washington University’s program, which will run from July 17-Aug. 5, will come from Brazil, China, Colombia, Mongolia, Peru and Romania. They will receive an intensive learning experience designed not only to provide rigorous daily instruction in the English language, but also to acclimate them to American campus culture. Included in the three-week itinerary are college success workshops, guest lectures and field trips to other college campuses.

While here, they will live among American high school students enrolled this summer in other pre-college programs, and will participate in a variety of  social events, such as outings to Six Flags amusement park and trips to the City Museum.

Baker and her staff of 34, who are predominantly Washington University students, are responsible for the teens’ experiences while in the United States.

“The Summer Experiences office offers a variety of pre-college summer programming for middle and high school students,” Baker said. “The EducationUSA Academy fits in perfectly with our administrative expertise in promoting academic growth, preparing students from diverse backgrounds and cultures for our community of learners, and fostering cultural exchange and inclusion.”

This last point, according to Brantmeier, is critical. “This type of engaged partnership with the State Department fosters intercultural understanding and cross cultural competency, while promoting peace in today’s world,” she said.

More information is available here.

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