From Argentina to Edgewood

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The Homestay Immersion Program run out of Fulbright Scholar Nilson DaSilva’s Edgewood home, recently hosted 17 South American students and adults.

For three weeks in July (1-23) they were given the opportunity to be immersed in English and American culture.

Among the Argentinian delegation, there were 11 students, a student’s mother, two teachers, a principal and a former Fulbright recipient, as well as principal and Latin America Coordinator for the program, Monica Scarafia. In this group they had students from Argentina and Uruguay.

The group was composed of: Patricia Viola, Ornella Corigliano, Gregorio Beltramon, Viviana Gigante and Scarafia.

The students were Lara Mussa, Carla Scarafia, Angela Gallego, Ximena Wolf, Gaspar Jordan, Gabriel Hintermeister, Axel Siebert, Lucio Finello, Luciano Pugliese and Joaquim Bonetto.

“Bringing international students to visit, learn and practice English is not only a dream for them, but a way to promote meaningful experiences in their lives.  We want these students to keep in their hearts and minds each moment they lived here,” DaSilva said.

The students all lived in DaSilva’s Edgewood home, and were provided home-cooked meals and a place to call home during their trip.

“The students became close friends through the close proximity of a family setting homestay immersion program,” DaSilva said.

Every day they were required to write in their journals, in English to enhance their writing skills.

“The level of English understanding fluctuated from beginning to intermediate to advanced. Several of the students had been to the United States previously.

“We want them to realize that life itself is a competition and they need to participate and be aware of the greater world they live in,” he said.

It wasn’t just the Ocean State that enthralled the students.

“They were introduced to the history, culture, architecture and beauty of Rhode Island. They loved their trips to Boston and Washington, D.C.,” said DaSilva.

Other visits included Six Flags, Waterfire, the Blackstone Valley, the State House and Providence Place, Save the Bay and walks around Federal Hill and Pawtuxet Village.

They even went to see Walgreens, Stop & Shop and a Wal-Mart.

Due to weather issues, a visit to the beach and a game at McCoy were canceled.

One of their favorite and most memorable experiences was attending the Cumberland Independence Day parade.

“They were amazed by how friendly everyone was, the way people dressed to show their patriotism, the fact that the police would come over and say hi, and just talk to them, they were blown away,” said DaSilva.

The students were impressed with how clean Rhode Island is, the friendliness and niceness of its residents.

Fellow Fulbright Scholar Jan Bowab organized a book club for them, and they all read “Something Upstairs” by Avi, and actually participated in the walk described in the book.

All the students were impressed with all the opportunities for education available in the United States.

“Everything they are doing is meant to help them become critical thinkers, to enhance their comprehension and experiences in the United States,” said DaSilva.

The students actually took pronunciation classes in order to assist them with ordering food.

“They enjoyed the Awful Awfuls, but they found American food to be spicy overall,” DaSilva said.

There are aspects of American culture in Argentina such as Ellen DeGeneres, Big Brother and Jimmy Fallon.

“We wanted different ways to engage the students, from their interests to what we wanted to show them,” DaSilva said.

They worked very closely with Adrianne Gallo and the William Hall library staff.

“We are so fortunate to have had the professional assistance of the staff of William Hall and Cranston Central Library. It was so amazing to see students exploring the C-Lab and the 3-D printer. I am glad, we as a team put together a program with an integrated curriculum that enhanced student self-esteem, positive attitudes and civic engagement,” DaSilva said.

During a visit to the Central Library, the students were amazed and intrigued by the electric pencil sharpener.

"They have never used one. They have only seen them on TV," DaSilva said.

The language immersion program stimulates English language learning through American culture and civilization.

“Students had the opportunity to experience what they only could see through movies. They loved being in Cranston. As they told me: ‘It looks like we are in a big real movie screen.’ It is visible that dreams come true, just like this initiative launched by the Homestay English immersion program. As a former Fulbright recipient, educator and second language acquisition researcher I couldn’t be more proud of this final accomplishment,” said DaSilva.

To learn more about the program call; (401) 347-7258, or email DaSilva directly, ndasilvari2013@gmail.com.

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