After long, long flights impeded by delays and cancellations, all 38 of this year's STELLAR students have finally made it to our home on the prairie. We are so excited they're here!
Although the students just arrived from China a few days ago, we've already been busy exploring UMM and the surrounding community in our four groups, led by the mentors and named after Minnesota sports teams--the Wild, the Timberwolves, the Twins, and the Vikings. The students have already learned where in Morris they can mail a letter, set up a bank account, buy a bicycle, watch a movie, and find good winter clothing. With the weather we've been having, it's hard to believe that in just a few months we'll all be at TrueValue Town and Country on Main Street stocking up on mittens and hats! We finished off the busy first weekend with a fun event: a night of bowling with American first-year students and mentors from the Gateway program. What a fun group! We're excited to do more activities with Gateway as the program progresses.
Now that we've started to get settled in to the town of Morris and to campus life, it's time to get ready for the first day of classes. (Tomorrow morning already! Can you believe it? My the time has flown...). During STELLAR, the weekdays will begin in the morning with small "Language" classes focusing on reading and writing, which will help prepare students for their afternoon class on Intercultural Communication--the first time they will be in an American classroom learning alongside American students. Throughout the program, guest lecturers will also teaches us about environmental studies, theatre, and a program at Morris called "service learning"--just to keep things interesting! The diversity of the program offered at UMM are part of what makes it a liberal arts university. We'll let Nancy Pederson, Kristina Gray, and Brian Parmeter--the three instructors for the Language portion of the class--tell you a little bit about themselves:
Hello! My name is Nancy, and I'm a native of Minnesota. My undergraduate degree is a BS in International Business; my graduate degree is an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language, which I earned in 1997 from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. I was a short-term exchange student to Nankai University in Tianjin, PRChina in 1988, and during my life I've been lucky enough to teach in the United States, Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. I've been teaching ESL at UMM for the past 6 years, and I'm excited to work with STELLAR again this summer!
Ni Hao! As a life-long learner, I was awarded my MA degree from U of M, Minneapolis in 1990. I have taught English in four Asian countries totaling over ten years. I am eager to walk, bike, talk, watch movies, sing, play Frisbee AND learn more from you about China!
Hello! My name is Brian, and I have an MS in Rhetoric and Technical Communication. My professional life has always revolved around communication. As a professional photographer and musician, and now as an English teacher, the goal is the same: it's all about the exchange of ideas.
I have traveled quite a bit including a couple of trips to Asia. I very much enjoy seeing how people in different cultures go about their lives... how similar we all are and how different we all are. In all of my travels I've been amazed at how kind and helpful people have been, and how much effort they put into communicating with me. Teaching in ESL is a way for me to return some of that helpfulness, and to improve my knowledge and appreciation of other cultures.
Best of luck from all of us on your first day of class!