Like most students coming to Education First (EF) at Mills College, French exchange student Rose Turpin enrolled in the program to immerse herself in the language and culture of the U.S.
“I wanted to improve my English and discover a new country and meet new people to speak English with,” said Turpin, who has been in the program for three months. “It is important for my future to speak English.”
Turpin is enrolled in the EF University Preparation program, which prepares students for an academic education and a career in the United States. EF at Mills seeks to provide each student with a unique learning opportunity to learn English through a interactive curriculum.
“What distinguishes EF International Language School at Mills College from its peers is not only the dynamic, multimedia curriculum used by all EF schools around the world, but also the wide ranging opportunities to experience authentic student life on this beautiful and historic campus in the exciting San Francisco Bay Area,” said Andrew Hicks, School Director of the Mills EF International Language School. “Whether it is at Founders, in the Olin Library or on Toyon Meadow, EF students enjoy the opportunity to share their experiences and learn about language and culture from the Mills community.”
Students can choose to join an MBA training program to gain experience and study for the TOEFL, GMAT and GRE exams. The University Prep program is one of three programs, ranging from two weeks to more than a year, offered by EF to foreign exchange students. This includes the EF Intensive Language program and the EF Academic Program and Pathways program. The EF Intensive Course program is year-round and offers 30 courses a week with more specialized lesson plans for students interested in business, creative writing, politics and even tourism. The EF Academic Programs and Pathways are similar to study abroad programs with specialized comprehensive long-term programs.
“Our hope is that students will leave EF having had the opportunity to experience and engage in the social and educational culture that exists on the Mills College campus, and in doing so, will leave the United States with new friends and a new appreciation for both this country and the diversity of their global community in addition to their much improved English language skills,” he said.
For more than 21 years, Mills College has partnered with EF to provide a learning space for students around the world seeking an American college experience. There are currently an estimate of 100 students enrolled in the program.
Even with its history of providing cultural experiences for foreign students, many Mills students still do not know much about the program located up on the “Founders” hill at White Hall.
“I don’t interact with them,” said senior Miriam Noriega.
Junior Suzan Boulad said she and her friends have had uncomfortable experiences meeting with EF students. “I wish they would be more incorporated into the campus community,” she said.
The EF staff say that they are eager to incorporate more activities for Mills and EF students to meet.
“Personally, I think Mills and EF could do more integrated activities,” said EF Residential Assistant Brett Berning.
EF allows Mills students to participate in most of their activities, including movie nights, barbecues, dances and even excursions to the city. EF also offers a language partner program for any Mills student to volunteer as speaking partners with foreign exchange students. The EF students can help Mills students in their foreign language skills while they in turn can help the EF students learn English.
“I think they are interesting to know and it creates more diversity in the campus,” said junior Donna Liu, who said she is friends with EF students.
EF students have recently been invited to several Mills events and activities, including the Black and White Ball. They also have access to Mills facilities such as the gym and pool, though there are certain gym hours only for Mills students.
“The students I speak to are really nice, and they are really open,” said EF student Sabina Jammahom from Holland, who has befriended Mills students and attends events on campus. Jammahom mentioned the social activities that she and her friends participate in off-campus, including trips to Oakland neighborhoods and volunteer work at a women’s shelter.
“Sometimes we go bowling together and go see the neighborhoods in Oakland — not just the tourist sites, but real life places,” she said.
“I go to visit San Francisco, Berkeley, and Lake Tahoe; all the tourist places,” said Marine Jouanguy from France, who hopes to study international trade after she leaves EF. “I hang out with my friends at night and we go to night clubs.”
EF students are eager to meet with Mills students to help improve their language skills.
“I think the class for not so important because you learn more English talking to people, especially go into the city,” said Belgian student Raza Haq Qazi. “I learn more that way than talking to people in the class.”
To learn more about the EF program visit the office located at White Hall near Founders to visit the office to sign for activities or join the language partner program.