As an immersive language program, NSLI-Y helps American youth become part of local communities abroad. As a result, long-lasting friendships are made. These friendships between peers from around the world increase mutual understanding and prepare this next generation of global citizens to be global leaders. Here are some highlights from the 2017 summer programs featuring interactions between NSLI-Y students and local peers.
At the beginning of the summer, NSLI-Y Chinese participants were introduced to their language partners, who act as language tutors and guides to Zhuhai during the summer program. After introductions, the students and their language partners shared their first lunch at a large traditional Chinese cafeteria where they sampled various Chinese foods and got to know each other using Chinese.
NSLI-Y Chinese participants’ first week in Xi'an included the first meeting with local Chinese peers who acted as their language partners throughout the program. Even though none of the students had any formal Mandarin language learning before the program, the students jumped straight in and used the Mandarin they had learned since arriving. All students were lively and engaged, and by the end of the first day, they could all introduce themselves and their peer language partners to the staff!
NSLI-Y Arabic students in Marrakech had the opportunity to participate in Eid Al-Fitr activities with youth from a local orphanage at the Center for Language and Culture. The American and Moroccan youth bonded over games which required cooperation, use of Arabic, and intercultural dialogue. One of the games involved the students drawing portraits of each other. It was a fun way to get to know each other and see oneself through another's’ eyes.
After getting to know the Moroccan youth better, the participants had the opportunity to give Eid gifts to their new friends. It was wonderful for the students to participate in a long-standing Moroccan tradition of charity and gift-giving during Eid, and learn more about orphans and poverty in Morocco.
NSLI-Y Russian students were cordially welcomed by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, where they met with Embassy staff. Ms. Michele Peterson, Cultural Affairs Officer of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and overseer of professional and academic exchanges, and Mr. Vasilli Alafogiannis, Regional Security Officer briefed the students on how to stay safe and secure in Moscow (covering in particular the “hot topic” for today – cybersecurity), shared with them their personal career highlights and experiences, and offered some valuable tips how to successfully navigate the host environment. This experience was particularly insightful, considering that many NSLI-Y students indicated an interest in pursuing careers in foreign affairs.
The opportunity to interact with local peers was another great part of the students’ adjustment to life in Russia. On the first day, NSLI-Y students met their peers – over forty members of the Young Enthusiasts from the Pushkin Museum, who were very excited to meet their new American friends. The Russian students planned a variety of fun activities for the NSLI-Y participants, including some games and ice-breaking activities. During their second meeting, the Pushkin Museum students planned a scavenger hunt for the group, in which all the instructions were given in Russian (and answers had to be given in Russian too!). With the help of the Pushkin students, the students were able to take on this challenge!
Shortly after starting their Russian language learning in the classroom, the NSLI-Y Russian participants in Moscow met with Russian peers who acted as their language partners for the summer. The students used the Russian knowledge they had gained to introduce themselves, ask questions, learn and use new basic vocabulary, and practice spelling and pronunciation of Russian words. By their second meeting with their peer language partners and by the middle of the week with their host families, the students were engaging in enthusiastic basic Russian conversations. The students were so eager to continue building these relationships and getting to know Russia that they, along with their peer language partners and host siblings, planned and attended an unscheduled visit to the Red Square and Gorky Park.