The College of Staten Island offers a world of knowledge to its students, as many take advantage of study-abroad pportunities every year. The College also hosts students from other countries, who want to benefit from a high-caliber CSI education, while learning about the U.S. first hand.
One example of a student in the latter category is English instructor Xuejun You, who came to CSI from China. She was able to draw from her American experience to add a new, dynamic aspect to her classes back home.
Xuejun initially attended Hebei Teachers College in China. After graduation, she remained at Hebei, teaching English. Things took a dramatic turn for her life and career in 1994, when she had the opportunity to attend CSI, where she received her MA in 1995. Since then, she has been teaching English to non-English-major students (both graduates and undergraduates) at Hebei Normal University.
Xuejun believes that her time at CSI and in New York City was her “best achievement. Although I learned English and taught it for some time, I could only teach the students some English words and some grammar. I knew little about American culture. Of course, I read some books about it but that is different from the first-hand experiences. As a result, my class was always dull and the students were tired of learning.” So, in an effort to gain admission to CSI, she “worked diligently, passed the TOEFL exam, and followed the admissions procedure.”
When she went back to China after her time at CSI, things were much improved for Xuejun’s career, thanks to what she learned here. “With the help of my [CSI] professors, I made progress in English. After returning I felt more confident in my teaching, integrating my experiences and American culture, customs, and habits into my classes. I told stories about the professors and classmates I got to know. I showed movies I brought from the States and I told them about the parties I went to and the food I enjoyed.” Now, she reports that her students enjoy her classes.
Noting that studying abroad is much easier for students today, Xuejun does note that there are some ups and downs, but, in the end, it’s worth the effort. “Leaving home to study in another country sounds fascinating. You can explore and discover something new and enjoy the feeling of freedom. In spite of many advantages, there are many challenges. You are going to encounter different values, different beliefs, different customs and habits. When the initial excitement is gone, you feel distressed and tired and you will be homesick. Looking back on my first days in New York, I missed home so much that I cried many times. It takes a long time to adjust to the new environment. However, I think studying and living in another country is a very helpful and beneficial experience. We not only learn to understand the different cultures and different peoples, but we can understand and learn more about ourselves from different angles and perspectives.”
Looking ahead, although it has been many years since she studied at CSI, Xuejun hopes to return again some day, in an effort to experience more of life in the U.S., and augment her classes in China with more fascinating stories.