The Storm: Student Arrival Day!
The day for which everyone has been waiting has finally arrived: Students of the French and Chinese Academies landed in on St. Michael's campus with enthusiasm and joy.
The day has finally come: French and Chinese Academy students have landed at St. Michael's College for four weeks of language immersion.
Buzzing in the air today was a combination of excitement, nerves, and curiosity—yet, even with these nerves flowing through the minds of students from both Academies, they still managed to skip the awkward introductions and go right to friendship.
As the arrivals began to pour in promptly at 1:00pm, the on-site staff quickly met the demand and kept the students flowing through each stage of the registration. With staged tables, including everything from health inquiries to “swag bag” collections, students were able to get everything set and in-line for their four-week stay at St. Michael’s.
Phones were locked up (for language immersion purposes, of course!), rooms were occupied, and orientation packets were handed out.
Amidst the excitement, many students dove right into their languages, engaging in conversations with newly-made friends in Chinese and French. Although, the students weren’t just using their foreign languages amongst themselves—additionally, they engaged in conversations in their target languages with their soon-to-be professors.
Parents were asked to leave promptly at 5:00 PM, so their final goodbyes were said shortly before then. A mixture of emotions was found in these goodbyes: On one hand, the parents are glad to see their children embark on this journey; however, it also pains them to leave their children for four entire weeks.
After parents departed, students finished getting acclimated to the campus and unpacking all of their belongings. Once this was accomplished, students walked over to the dining hall, in order to have -- for most of them—their first meal at St. Michael’s.
Conversation was in the air at dinner. Students sat with their corresponding academies, getting the chance to introduce themselves and dive into speaking Chinese and French.
In addition to the lively conversation found at dinner, several students were asked the question of, "What are you most excited about for this year’s Language Academy?” Here are their responses:
- Hannah, French Academy: “I’m most excited to start to think in French...and be forced to learn it!”
- Julia, Chinese Academy: “Making new friends and learning a new language.”
- Henry, French Academy: “To expand my French knowledge.”
- Maggie, Chinese Academy: “Reconnecting with old friends!”
- Rebecca, French Academy: “Meeting other people who are learning French.”
- Natalie, French Academy: “Figuring out how to talk about Harry Potter, in French!”
- Zack, Chinese Academy: “Being able to think in another language!”
As you can see, a passion to engulf themselves in their target languages is one of the many things for which all the students are excited. Foreign language interest and love is epitomized through these students—all of whom are dedicating four weeks of their summer vacation to further their knowledge and awareness of the Chinese and French languages and cultures.
After dinner, the academies temporarily split up. During this period, Academy Language Directors—Tong Chen and David Sainsily—took time to welcome their new students… in quite an interesting and interactive way.
Once together, Academy Directors led language cheers -- all of which had the same central theme: get the kids excited to learn. In these loud, roaring cheers, students had the chance to outwardly express their passion for their languages.
To check out the French Academy’s cheer, visit Middlebury Interactive’s Facebook Page here.
Once the excitement and hype was at an all-time high, both Academies came together in the McCarthy Center for the annual convocation. Academy-pride was running through the veins of every student. Chinese students shouted their cheers at the French Academy, and then received a roaring response from the French students, as they retaliated with shouting theirs.
Both Academies personified enthuisiasm, joy, and an excitement to begin their studies.
Once the war cries concluded, Rabia Mairech -- the Summer Site Manager for St. Michael’s -- took the stage. In her welcoming address, she stressed the importance of dedicating oneself to his/her studies while at the Academy. More importantly, however, she reminded students that the Language Pledge is the backbone to language improvement. In order to maximize their time here, she said, it’s crucial that they abide by the Language Pledge, and speak absolutely NO English for the next four weeks.
After her welcoming address, Chinese Language Director—Tong Chen—took the stage. With of mix of friendly trash talk and humor geared towards the French Academy, she further instilled, within her Academy, a stronger sense of pride, eventually leading to another Academy Cheer, which echoed in the ears of all of the French students in the crowd.
David Sainsily -- the French Language Director -- came up to the stage to talk after the cheers from the Chinese Academy began to simmer down. In his time on stage, he jokingly told the Chinese Academy that they put up a valiant effort, but were no match for the French Academy.
“Sorry,” he sarcastically said.
When all jokes were finished, Mr. Sainsily took a more serious turn, telling students of both Academies that they, “have a purpose.” He told them that they’re here to immerse themselves in their languages, and to walk away from this program better people and better speakers than they were when they entered it.
“Welcome to the journey,” he said. “When it’s over, it’s over.”
He then followed this statement by citing three integral attributes by which all students must live during the Academy: Resilience, Dedication, and Commitment.
However, he reminded students that these attributes are not to only be applied to their studies -- but also, to the relationships they form in the upcoming weeks. “The people you will meet here,” he said, “will be in your lives forever.”
Exiting the stage with a roaring round of applause, David Sainsily’s speech marked the official end to the first day of the Academy here at St. Michael’s College. After the convocation, the students returned to their dorms to get ready for all that is to come tomorrow.
So, as the sun sets on the campus of St. Michael’s, the exhilaration and anticipation within the minds of all the students begins to rise. They’re all in for an eventful, memorable and life-changing four weeks.