In what’s being billed as a win-win for both institutions, Bennett College has entered a Memorandum of Understanding with American Language Academy for English Language Instruction Programs for international students, officials announced Thursday.
Several months in the making, the MOU was signed this week by Bennett College Interim President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins and American Language Academy President Yuni Nguyen inside the Bell Board Room on Bennett’s campus. Officials from both institutions were on hand for the historic signing.
“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be part of Bennett College,” Nguyen said. “We look forward to the long-term relationship with Bennett, and with this partnership I hope some of our students will come to Bennett.”
“I think it’s a win-win for both of us,” Dawkins said. “We are trying to significantly move toward internationalizing our campus and increasing enrollment at Bennett, and this partnership could be a catalyst for that. The American Academy of Language brings the students to the states, and we can provide support services to integrate them into the American and HBCU culture. Also, through this arrangement Bennett students will have interaction with other international students beyond our campus.”
The Greensboro-based American Language Academy began as a local immigrant community language resource center that offered translation and tutoring as well as financial and personal assistance. In 2010, ALA was granted authorization under federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students and international students. In 2013 and 2014 ALA was granted accreditation, and in 2015 the institution started designing online Intensive English Program courses for students who could not attend classes at any of its locations.
Bennett College was founded as a historically black coed institution in 1873 and became women’s only in 1926. It will add a residential and cultural component to what ALA currently offers in the area.
Rosemarie Igbo, interim director of Bennett’s Center for Global Studies, said the arrangement was initiated by former Center Director Lee Todhunter, who left the institution in March for another job. Bennett College has a robust international program that since 2009 has sent about 200 students to 29 countries as far away and varied as Australia, Tanzania, China, South Africa,
Costa Rica and South Korea. What’s more, the institution has hosted 19 international students from formal government scholarship programs from countries including Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkmenistan and Indonesia.
Dawkins said the newly formed partnership will help kick start Bennett’s Intensive English Program, which provides intensive training in English or English as a Second Language, as well as academic preparation for students interested in improving their English skills and preparing for college. Through classroom instruction, opportunities for private language exchange and cultural activities, the goal is to help students develop the language skills necessary for success in their professional or academic lives. The comprehensive, demanding program is offered in nine-week sessions covering listening, speaking, reading and writing and involves assignments in and outside the classroom.
Dr. Tina Raffaldini, vice president for academic affairs at ALA, heralds the newly formed partnership.
“Most international students who receive failing grades do so not because of limited language skills but because they’re not accustomed to the culture at American colleges and universities,” Raffaldini said. “For example, an international student might not know the proper way to speak to an American professor or how to write a paper, take good notes or be an active participant in classroom discussions. Our partnership with Bennett College will help them to develop a cultural understanding on how to operate within the U.S. higher education system.”