The first cohort of UW-Whitewater’s Intensive English Institute graduated in August 2014, but not before a travel study experience exposing them to a quintessential American experience – the road trip – while learning about Native American history and the history of the western United States.
Four Brazilian students studying in the United States as part of the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program visited sites in Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota between August 16 and 24 led by new IEI coordinator Karen Wislocky and teaching assistant Emilia Cedron.
The student participants, Lucas Zardo, Lucas Ozzetti, Diogo Coimbra and Valdir Amorim, remain at UW Whitewater as degree seekers with the exception of Zardo, who transferred to UW Milwaukee to study Civil Engineering with a cartography emphasis. Ozzetti and Amorim both study Computer Science, while Coimbra majors in field biology.
However, in “Becoming the West” the four immersed themselves in American cultural history visiting Fort Snelling, the Mall of America, Wall Drug, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, and a prehistoric Native American village, among many other locations. Each stop included reading and /or DVDs for contextual knowledge and guided follow up discussion. In addition, the four will present their travels and what they have learned at an International Student Association meeting.
TA Emilia Cedron called the trip “ideal for IEI students both for the connection to academics as well as the traveling experience of going out west” and a “fun, educational, and thrilling opportunity.” On the basis of its inaugural success, this opportunity will be incorporated annually into the IEI student experience.
UW Whitewater English Language Academy programs like the new Intensive English Institute are helping to increase diversity and international student numbers. IEI courses, like this one, help non-native speakers of all levels of proficiency improve their listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills.