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Mathew White’s 2010 Boston Summer Program Report

The Summer 2010 Boston University study program was a great success. Twenty first-year students from our department, full of energy and enthusiasm, participated.


Immediately upon arrival in Boston, students were met by ground transportation and taken to their host families. Professor Suga and I accompanied one group of students to their host family locations and were able to see the housing in which they would be staying.


The experience of staying one month with host families is an extremely valuable part of the program. Students have the opportunity to communicate in English on a 24-hour basis and also to learn different family cultures and ways of communicating. In addition to their ASL and ESL study on Boston University’s campus and in the city of Boston, the home stay experience is where much of the learning and personal growth can take place. Expectations and stereotypes of what an “American family” would be like were replaced by the realization that just like people, each family has its own unique identity.


The program got off to a wonderful start, with the first lunch including a meeting with students studying Japanese at Boston University. Students also enjoyed an orientation by the host family coordinators, and some time to play piano, billiards, shuffleboard and ping-pong in the student center as they waited for their Boston University student IDs to be made. The students took a tour of the campus, and in no time at all, were able to negotiate their way around a university with a campus that has buildings located along several city blocks.


At the kick-off of the program, our students joined other international students on a trolley tour of Boston. This was a great way for students to get to know a little bit about the layout of Boston and make some friends. We met students from Korea, Taiwan, Kazakistan and many other countries. We were blessed with beautiful weather this year, so while the tour was a little hot, I’m sure it was nothing compared to the heat and humidity the other students faced back in Japan while their classmates were in Boston.


As always, students experienced very active ASL and ESL classes by very confident, capable and engaging teachers. On several occasions, the courses involved walking tours or visits to locations such as parts of the Freedom Trail, Beacon Hill, Boston Commons, The North Church and Harvard University. In addition, this year included class excursions with students in the Boston University Japanese program to the supermarket and a Japanese café.


There is never a shortage of things to do in Boston. We attended the Blue Man Show one night, and after that went out to a sports restaurant where we could watch the Red Sox win a game, celebrate with the locals, and enjoy lobster and other delicious food. On another day, we took a tour of Fenway Park. Some students attended a game in which the Red Sox played the Angels, so they were able to see Hideki Matsui play.


Probably the best way to gauge the success of the Boston Program is to observe the actions and attitudes of the students now that we are back. I am waiting to hear more from students about how they spent their final week of research in Boston. However, several students have noted that they really miss their “Boston lives”.


I often quote Saint Augustine when I speak about travel. He is noted for saying, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I hope the students on this program have not only read many pages, but filled a few with their own ideas. When they return to school, I believe it will be with a greater understanding of the world and with more enthusiasm for their English and ESL studies, as well as their studies of their own culture. Furthermore, I’m sure that their renewed enthusiasm will be contagious among their classmates. We are a learning community, and we can all learn from the adventures and experiences of our students on the Boston Program.

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