International staff and students alike were encouraged to get in touch with the English language Centre to see how they could get involved with the week’s festivities, said Mark Cooper, Deputy Director of studies at the ELC.
“We would like to see as many people as possible participating in this event, which marks a significant anniversary for the university and its international students,” Mr Cooper said.
The week’s activities will kick off with an official opening by the UNE vice-chancellor, Prof Jim Barber, on Monday, July 31 at 4:30 PM at Booloominbah. The English language Centre will host an open morning on Wednesday, August 1, from 9 to 11 AM, and on the evening of Thursday, August 2, the Armadale International Night will take place at the UNE Arts Theatre, featuring poetry, singing and dancing, and other performances by members of UNE’s international community.
Mr Cooper said he was particularly keen to hear from international members of staff at UNE who might be interested in sharing aspects of their UNE journey on the night.
For more than two decades, the English Language Centre (previously known as the Language Training Centre) has been preparing international students to undertake studies at UNE, as well as running short courses for high schools, government and business and university student groups from Japan, Thailand ,Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. In that time, almost 4000 students have graduated from the centre, with the vast majority going on to studies at UNE.
When the centre began in 1991, it had 28 students from eight countries. By 2011, enrolments numbered almost 200 students from 19 different countries. Today, Mr Cooper estimates that roughly half of all international students coming to UNE undertake studies at the Centre.
Among the many proud achievements the Centre can look back on is the successful tender to provide English-language training to students from East Timor in the immediate aftermath of their country gaining independence in 1999. A large cohort of East Timorese students graduated from the program, which was run in conjunction with the Australian Government. The students went on to complete their studies at UNE and on returning to East Timor occupied important positions in business and government during the rebuilding of their country.
Mr Cooper said the week’s celebrations were also an opportunity to acknowledge the important links between UNE’s international students and the local community. An important such link was the English Language Centre’s homestay program, he said. Under this program, international students have the chance to live with an Australian family for the duration of their studies. Lifelong friendships were often formed along the way, he said.
“International students bring enormous economic, cultural, and social benefits to Armidale and the University, and the English Language Centre has long played a vital role in bringing them here and preparing them for their studies,” Mr Cooper said. “We would like to put out a warm welcome to the town and all members of the UNE community to join us in celebrating this contribution.”
For more information about next week’s events, or to get involved, please contact Mark Cooper on firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 6773 2972.