Session 1 has just begun at the University of Delaware English Language Institute (ELI), and excitement is in the air as ELI students from all over the world arrive to Newark to begin their studies. Typically, students fly alone, with a friend, or maybe with their families, but this year a new ELI effort in China ensured that no student would travel without a friend.
Called “Travel to UD Together,” the program ensured that every student who registered could travel from China to the U.S. with other incoming students and with ELI staff. With flights departing from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Fuzhou, students from all over the country had the opportunity to travel with each other and begin forging friendships.
More than 50 incoming students traveled over the course of six days, along with ELI recruitment team members, recently graduated Academic Transitions student Ruisen Yang, and Blue Hen Ambassador Andrew Yan.
ELI staff member Chang “Emily” Liu, who is based in Beijing, said the initiative was designed to help provide peace of mind to the students and their parents.
“One of the main purposes of the event was to release some worries for the new students and parents,” she explained. “Since most students have never traveled overseas by themselves, their parents were worried about their safety and whether they may face any difficulties on the way to school.”
Yan, who serves as a Blue Hen Ambassador–a student worker at UD who assists with tours, student orientations, and other activities–spent the summer assisting with recruitment events in China. When it was time to fly back to the U.S. via “Travel to UD Together,” he was responsible for helping with the trip from Shanghai.
Yan’s role was to help students find and match up with each other. After the whole group arrived in the U.S., Yan then continued his support by answering student and parent questions, providing a campus tour, and assisting with student orientation.
From Yan’s perspective, parents and students were grateful for the support.
“I connected with many students’ parents during my time in China, to let them feel good and comfortable to send their kids to UD,” he said. “With the great help of ‘Travel to UD Together,’ they seemed pleased and great.”
This is the first year that the ELI has hosted the “Travel to UD Together” event, but Liu said it could possibly happen again in the future.
“Not all students have a travel buddy, but some do,” she said, further explaining that in the future, the event could expand to include returning students.