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The Language Connection Advances St. John’s Global Partnerships

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

St. John’s University hosted a reception for 69 Brazilian and Argentinean elementary and high school teachers who participated in two professional development courses designed and run by the University’s intensive English-language program, The Language Connection (TLC).

The festivities, which took place on February 20 at the Manhattan campus, honored TLC’s commitment to fostering global partnerships. “By making it possible for teachers from overseas to come to New York for professional development, St. John’s is reaching out globally, connecting cultures,” said Martha K. Hirst, executive vice president, chief operating officer, and treasurer. “Providing such services in an increasingly interdependent world is a University priority.”

University administrators including Brij Anand, vice president of facilities; André McKenzie, Ed.D., vice president for academic support services; Jerrold Ross, Ph.D., dean of The School of Education; and Hallie Sammartino, Ph.D., vice president for marketing and communications, were among the more than 50 guests who mingled with the South American educators. They, in turn, were eager to share their SJU study abroad experience, which included a hallmark St. John’s service-learning element—preparing  food for the needy at City Harvest, a St. John’s community partner.

Also present at the reception were Norma Gonzalez, Ph.D., executive director of the Fulbright Commission Argentina, and Carl De Angelis, director of English and pre-academic programs at the Institute of International Education (IIE). To date, the IIE has selected The Language Connection for three Brazilian programs, with this being their first time working with Argentine teachers. De Angelis noted that SJU offers flexibility, customized programs, creativity, and the ideal New York City location. “But what really makes St. John’s stand out,” he said, “is its well-structured and mission-driven service-learning experience.”

Pamela Fairman, Ph.D., director of TLC, noted that grants received from IIE over the past three years have enabled The Language Connection to help language educators from abroad incorporate new technologies and topics in American history into their classes.

“We are very proud to be the only US higher education institution selected to host the new program for Argentine English teachers,” said Anthony Pacheco, vice president of global programs. “Plans are underway for future collaborations, including the possibility of a second program with Argentina in the winter.”

For Leonardo Bromberg, who teaches English in Argentina, the highlight of the six-week course was observing a class at the International High School at LaGuardia Community College. “I was amazed at how teachers are able to personally engage with students who come from so many different backgrounds,” he said.

“This experience was so worthwhile,” said Carlos Castro, a participant who teaches English at a military high school in Brazil. “We were exposed to native English speakers and observed how American culture impacts the way Americans speak. I plan to incorporate stories about attending opera and ballet in New York into my lessons. This experience has revitalized my approach to teaching.”