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International language school leaves Mills after over 20 years being on campus

Education First students exit a classroom inside White Hall, their current location on Mills campus. (Anna Corson)

After over 20 years of being on the Mills College campus, Education First, an international immersion and language school, will be moving to a San Francisco campus on April 31, 2011.

The EF school provides international students the opportunity to learn English on an American college campus. The EF international students had the opportunity to intermix and mingle with Mills students.

The program has over 400 schools and offices globally. In the United States, EF International has 11 schools in different cities including Miami, Los Angeles and New York.

The EF International school was established at Mills College in 1989, according to EF’s official website.

Both Mills College and EF language school said the departure of the program from Mills campus was mutual.

“It’s our time to depart Mills and move to our super school in San Francisco,” said Keiko Padilla, director of the EF school at Mills College.

Dorothy Calemeris, director of Auxiliary Services at Mills, said that the departure was a mix of Mills needing White Hall and the EF program consolidating to its San Francisco site.

In January of this year, 22 EF students left the Mills campus for other campuses as part of the transition off of the college’s campus, according to Padilla.  In mid-March, 33 more students will be leaving to finish their English studies at other campuses.

EF students will be compensated for the inconvenience and will choose another location of their liking to spend the remainder of their English immersion experience.

“You get to choose where you want to go and I chose New York,” said EF student, Celina Gonzalez from Mexico. She will be continuing her studies on a college campus similar to Mills in New York City.

The EF program will be moving its location to downtown San Francisco near Fisherman’s Warf.

Some Mills students feel that they will be losing close friends with the leaving of EF.

“(I had) a really strong relationship with a special person in EF,” said Isabel Cortes, President of the Fem Dems at Mills, referring to her relationship with an EF student from France. The French student tutored her in his native tongue and, with his help; she aced her first French test.

Not all Mills students had friendships or relationships with the EF students.

Dorothy Calimeris, Mills College director of Auxiliary Services and Keiko Padilla, EF school director acknowledged a “cultural clash” between EF students and their relationship with the campus. Calemeris and Panilla noted that these clashes are not the reason for the departure.

The building, White Hall that the EF program has been renting from Mills College will be renovated, according to Auxiliary Services Director Dorothy Calemeris.

“There are many possibilities for the future of White Hall, including new residential opportunities for Mills students, utilization by Middlebury College for their Summer Language Immersion Program and/or utilization by other conference groups,” said Renee Jadushlever, the Vice President for Operations at Mills College. “Additionally, there are several classroom spaces in the building.”

Before the hall can be used by the college, it has to undergo several renovations.

“At the end of the summer, major repairs will be undertaken in the entire building, including infrastructure repairs, bathroom upgrades, painting, new carpeting, lighting improvements, etc,” said Jadushlever. “We hope to have that work completed by the Spring 2012 semester, or at the latest, by the summer of 2012.”

The EF building could possibly be used for dormitories to house more Mills students, according to Calermeris. She said that she would like to focus on better campus housing options for juniors and seniors at Mills. The College Board will be meeting this month to discuss the finality of what White Hall will be used for.