English Language Institute honors anniversary with cake


Photo by Laura Lango

Thiago Souza, EWU student, plays piano and sings at the luncheon.

By Jasmine Ari Kemp, News Editor

Flags from Brazil to Saudi Arabia lined the Powers Reading Room in Hargreaves Hall where laughter erupted and camera phones captured the fragrant tunes of Bach played by Xiangyu Gao on the violin.

The music and conversation was part of the English Language Institute’s 35th anniversary luncheon. While students and faculty munched on chocolate cake, Neil Heyen, director of the ELI, told the story of the program’s beginning.

Fall 1979 marked the beginning of the program and at the reigns was Ed Yarwood, chairman of the foreign language department at EWU. In a Cheney Free Press article, Yarwood said the program was intended to get foreign students in “direct contact with the English language and American culture.”

Back then, Heyen said, the program was comprised of 35 Japanese students. The English Language Program was a contract program between Eastern and International Language Services based out of Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.

Flash forward to the present and Japan no longer has the largest representation in the program.

“Saudi Arabia, China and Brazil are the largest groups now,” he said.

It all has to do with global trends. Heyen cited scholarship programs from Saudi Arabia and, more recently, STEM programs from Brazil that are bringing students to the United States. Even when the program began, Japan was internationalizing itself.

The ELI saw growth in the 90s, where the program began focusing more on academics, according to Heyen. Students now focus on learning academic English and how to research.

Qing Meade, the outreach librarian, said because there is a language barrier, it is on JFK Library to reach out.

“Most of the Asian students are very reserved, they won’t go right up to you and ask a question … so we try and get them to open up more,” said Meade.

Meade was one of many faculty members at the luncheon to be recognized for her work with the institute.

The largest applause was for the instructors.

Instructors, Heyen said, must have a master’s of Arts in English with an emphasis in teaching English as a second language and have foreign experience. He himself lived in Japan.

Students also applauded each other. Each country represented in the institute was called out and students stood to be recognized.

“I’m impressed with the International presence on this campus,” said university President Mary Cullinan.

She explained how at California State University East Bay, where she previously worked, did not have the kind of program EWU has. She said the program at Eastern is more mature and has everything together.

Ali Aldubaey, a potential engineering major, was part of a large group of students taking selfies in front of their respective country’s flag. He said that despite it only being a picture, he can look at it and be reminded of home.

“I’d like to thank the English institute for everything they have done for me,” said Aldubaey.