Mohae Lee, South Korea
Mohae is from Seoul, Korea. She majored in Computer Science and Engineering at University and Communication at Graduate school. She came to UC San Diego with her husband, who is an opthalmologist in the university-run hospital in Korea. He got a sabbatical year from the university and came to UCSD as a visiting scholar. He insisted that they should come to San Diego, not only because it has gorgeous weather and relaxing vibe, but also UCSD has a good reputation in the medical fields.
Since she came to San Diego, Mohae has enjoyed building relationships and making friends. Mohae shares, “UCSD offers various programs even to the family members who came to San Diego for their spouses like me. From the very beginning at the family orientation, I was well-informed with all the different ways to get to be involved in the community depending on your personal interests and choices. I tried several programs and found some of them interesting and helpful for me.”
It was through the Family Orientation Program that Mohae met Nona Mathews, her English-in-Action tutor. Mohae believes that working with Nona is more than just learning English. She has been very happy to get to know Nona as a friend. “Nona is incredible. She is open-minded, experienced, and perpetually young. She seems to accept a person as the person is without any prejudice. This makes it easy for me to tell my stories. What's more, she's got a sense of humor. I was never bored and our conversations were fun all the time.”
For Mohae, tutoring with Nona was the best since it was intimate and personal interaction. Rehab from Saudi Arabia also joined her and Nona and Mohae commented that she had more fun when it was the three of them. Mohae says “I guess that “the more, the merrier” is very true!”
In addition to participating in the EIA program, Mohae also came to Wednesday coffee table several times and joined the craft program to dye Easter eggs with her daughter.
While in San Diego, Mohae also completed the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program at UCSD Extension and received a professional certificate to teach English back in Korea.
Mohae would like to tell other international students to take part in the EIA program. “You never know if you will meet a life-long friend. It's completely worth trying it!”
Rehab Al Jawad
Rehab is from Saudi Arabia. She finished medical school and then decided to come to UC San Diego to pursue her master's degree in Advanced Studies of Clinical Research and do an observership at the same time. She chose UCSD because she had a mentor a long time ago who did her residency program in the pediatrics department in UCSD and discovered a syndrome during her training.
Since she came to San Diego, Rehab believes that UCSD and San Diego in general is very welcoming to the international students and everyone is very friendly.
She first learned about the EIA program when she visited the international center for the Scholar orientation. She has enjoyed working with Nona Mathews, commenting, “She is awesome. She is very helpful, patient, and funny. The most thing I like about her that she knows what she is doing.”
Rehab also shared that the EIA experience has helped her in speaking more clearly and with more confidence, and also helped her to understand American culture. She added that joining EIA is an opportunity that everyone should take advantage of. “One of the most weakness I had in English is the pronunciation. Nona helped me in that area and that increased my confidence level dramatically. Also she helped a lot in understanding the American culture. There were a lot of times that I wasn't sure how to react in certain situations and she helped me in evaluating people's actions from their perspective, not mine. “
Bahareh Javadinasab, Iran
Bahareh is from Iran and earned her Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran. Her husband is now a postdoctoral scholar at UCSD in Electrical Engineering. Bahareh is an active participant in many International Center programs, such as English-In-Action, the English conversation tables, and Mommy and Me, which she attends with her two children. She explains that “learning about other cultures and meeting with many international families are some of my nice experiences from my relationship to UCSD.”
Bahareh and her tutor, Nori, meet every week to discuss topics such as culture and etiquette. Bahareh and her children have even had the chance to experience American culture first-hand by celebrating holidays. She describes, “last Halloween, my kids and I had a wonderful time doing a lot of fun activities [with Nori],” such as carving pumpkins, eating American food, and trick-or-treating.
Being involved with English-In-Action has been useful in ways beyond “practicing English skills,” Behareh says. “It is the good chance to talk about every thing you would like to, making friends and finding someone to answer your questions especially when you are new in United States. “
Audrey Leriche, France
When Audrey arrived from France as the wife of a UCSD international post-doctorate, she quickly immersed herself in the social life of the International Center. She first joined the English-In-Action (EIA) program with the intention of improving her English for the workplace. However, her tutor, Nori Faer soon became more of a mentor than a tutor. The two began to celebrate the “little victories of everyday life” such as Audrey making her first English phone call, passing her driving test, and having her first job interview in English. She describes that Nori has equipped her with “wise advice,” the ability to express herself, and a greater understanding of “the do’s and don’ts” of American culture.
Before long, the two expanded their group to encompass Nori’s other tutee, Bahareh, and the sessions became a fascinating blend of American, Iranian, and French cultures. Audrey also broadened her own experiences by joining additional IC groups. She explains, “The friendly spirit of Wednesday Coffee [group] was the sunshine of my weeks when I arrived! When you are there, you are not alone anymore.” She also co-leads at the International Center Dinner Socials and creates the music playlists for the Friday Cafés.
After months of practicing her English through EIA, Audrey explains, “I am proud to say that I don’t consider my English as a problem anymore, and moreover, that I have made friends!” She shares some inspirational advice with English-in-Action participants: “If you have the will to share your time, to exchange with others (language, culture…), the IC is the best place to be. It is like entering a family, it becomes a shelter, a second house, where you want to go when you feel good or not so good. You will always find someone to help you, or to share the best moments of your new San Diegan life!”
She concludes with the idea that her greatest accomplishment during her time in the program is that she is richer in relationships. “I wish that one day,” she says, “I will be able to give as much [as] I received here.”
Siena Ma, China
Siena is from mainland China and received her BA degree in Mathmatics at Sun Yat-sen Unviersity and then applied for graduate schools in the US. She considered many mathematics-related programs, since her undergraduate major is computational mathematics and received several offers from different graduate schools. The main reason she decided to come to UCSD is that the Master of Statistics program in UCSD is a two-year program, so she would not feel pushed and would have enough time to adapt to the new life in US.
At UCSD, Siena shares that her most positive experience for me is EIA program, which she learned about from a friend who was also in the program. She also likes her Bioinformatics internship very much, which she is doing right now.
In the EIA program, Siena is currently working with Christina Kim, a 4th Year Undergraduate student in Political Science & International Studies. Siena shares “She is a very nice girl, and very active in student activities. Although she's busy all the time, we try to meet weekly. Our tutoring goes well, I think. I can ask her anything about English and American culture, like basic pronunciation, American festivals, and even "creepy accosting guys" I met...I'm glad I can make friends with her through EIA program.”
Siena’s advice to other students in the program is: “If you want to improve your English, or learn more about American culture, the EIA program will definitely help. I've been in the program for one year. It's very interesting and I look forward to meeting my tutor every time. I like it so much.”
Olga Kanzheleva, Russia
Olga is from St.Petersburg, Russia and has a master's degree in Computer Science.She came to UC San Diego with her husband, who is getting his PhD in Physics. Olga likes the friendliness of people in California, and she loves the ocean, the California weather and nature: mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and sequoias. Olga and her husband have visited a lot of places in San Diego: Maritime Museum, San Diego Zoo, safari park, Coronado, Point Loma Lighthouse and others sights around San Diego.
Olga learned about the EIA program during scholar orientation at the International Center when they received information about all of the IC activities. She also takes part in the Wednesday morning coffee conversation table and enjoys meeting other scholars and spouses from other parts of the world.
Currently, Olga is working with Letty Ponomareff, a retired middle school teacher. Olga states, “Letty is a perfect tutor. She is always bringing a lot of material, like vocabulary, idioms and texts about American culture. Also we talk a lot. She is an interesting companion and we always have a lot of topics to discuss. I think I am very lucky because I think I have one of the best tutors! “
Olga’s advice to other students and scholars that are thinking about applying for a tutor is: “Don't miss this great opportunity!”
Tianyin Xu, ChinaTianyin is originally from Shanghai, China and earned both his Bachelor and Master degrees in Nanjing, China. After that, he worked as a technician in Goettingen, Germany for one and a half years prior to studying at UC San Diego.
Tianyin is currently in a PhD program working in Computer Science in the CSE Department. His research area is Computer Systems and Networks, focusing on the research to make computer systems and networks to be more maintainable, scalable, reliable, and available.
Tianyin likes the academic atmosphere in the CSE department, especially in the system and network group. Here, people are really helping each other instead of competing with each other. Tianyin remarks, "The research here is serious: we do serious research aiming at making a difference instead of playing paper games. We care a lot about the impact of the research. Most of our projects have great impact on the industry." He also states that the department and the university provide a lot of cool and useful activities and events here to help in almost every aspect you can think about. For example, the EIA program to help with English language and American culture, the “Discover San Diego” program to help with exploring the city, “I-Club” to help communication and making friends. All these are amazing!
Tianyin learned about the EIA program through his advisor, who recommended working with a tutor to improve his presentation skills. Currently, he is working with Carolyn Passeneau. She worked in the Theatre and Dance Department for about 11 years, and now she is an arts writer. She’s really a good tutor, a cool tutor. She’s knowledgeable about arts, literatures, history, and all these other kinds of culture stuff. He has really learned a lot from her. She’s open-minded: she’s willing to talk about all kinds of things besides the language and culture, from arts, to literatures, from business to techniques. She knows how to make things interesting, not as the old-style teachers that only stick to the language itself. Talking with her is really like talking with a friend. Most importantly, she has the spirit of teaching -- patient, responsible, always trying to help.
Tianyin shared that his experience of the EIA program is really great! My tutor is really good, and every time we make a lot of fun. The EIA program does help me to improve my English as well as learn the culture here. Actually I shared my EIA experience in my research group, and quite a few group members applied for the program.
In addition to participating in the EIA program, Tianyin was involved in two other activities through the International Center: one was the Thanksgiving Exchange Program, and the other was the Whale Watching trip. "Both of them were really nice, "said Tianyin. " My host family was a young couple, Jonathan and Victoria. We went to their parents’ house in LA to celebrate Thanksgiving with their big family. The family is very kind and hospitable. We had the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. So delicious it was! The whale watching trip is also amazing. We went to the harbor and took a ship to watch the gray whale in the ocean. A lot of fun!"
Tianyin shared that he is learning a lot from his studies and research work. In addition to that, he's improving his whole package including the English language, communication skills, the knowledge of culture, etc. He believes all of these will help him in the future.