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Mills and EF Students Struggle to Connect

Across from Founders Commons over a hundred students from around the globe converge in one dormitory to live out the year as students on the Mills campus. The EF program has seen a rise in students this year, yet many feel that there is a lack of interaction between Mills and EF students.

The EF program is an international school of English. During the academic year about 100 students become involved with the EF program at Mills. This year, there are 115 EF academic year students.

Many EF and Mills students said they feel a disconnect between the two groups due to the lack of social interaction. EF student Gaku Hattori, age 25, from Japan, has been in the EF program at Mills for seven months. He joined the EF program to learn English for his future job in business relations. He enjoys being on the Mills campus, but has had a difficulty bonding with Mills students. “They [Mills students] stay long term, about two or four years, so for them, we [EF students] are very short term. That’s why we don’t have a chance to be friends,” said Hattori.

Hattori said he would like to see more interaction among Mills and EF students, “I’d rather live with Mills College students. It would be good to practice English with them.”

Jessica Saavedra, age 19, an EF student from Ecuador, feels she would benefit from more interaction with Mills students. “I don’t know too much about Mills because I am here in the EF program,” she said. “If we [EF and Mills students] lived together, it could be good because you can learn more and you can practice English with your roommates.”

Other EF students said that while they feel the detachment, they aren’t bothered by it. A 19-year-old French EF student, J.B. (who requested his initials to be used), said, “The EF students are like family because we spend so much time together. We’re kind of separated to the rest of the campus. The situation is comfortable to me.”

Many Mills students know little about the EF students, because they feel separated from them on campus.

“I don’t think I noticed that there were EF students,” said junior Evelyn Rodas. However, Rodas said she understood the value of the EF program, “I think it’s part of the whole diversity thing, as Mills likes to present itself as a diverse school. One piece of diversity is providing opportunities for underrepresented demographic groups but the other part of it is how Mills likes to present itself as international.”

Senior Brittony Girton said she understood why there is a disconnect between EF and Mills students, “There aren’t many relationships. They aren’t in any of our classes so the only time we [Mills students] really see them [EF students] is walking around or at Founder’s,” she said.

However, some Mills students who have managed to forge connections with EF students value the experience. Freshwoman Jessica Jackson said, “It really does take an effort in the Mills community to connect with the EF community. My personal experience has found that EF people are very open and friendly and quite a few of them are my friends.”