Summer culture academy

Eleven Chinese middle school students spent two weeks on the La Crosse campus and in the community learning about American culture and improving their English skills.

Dena Huisman never expected to teach anyone other than students in her communications studies classes at UWL. But that changed this summer when the associate professor was tapped to teach a group of Chinese middle school students as part of a new program on campus.

“It was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences I’ve had,” says Huisman. “It’s changing a lot about how I’m thinking for fall semester.”

The U.S. English and Culture Summer Academy is a new venture put on by the School of Education, International Education and Engagement and Continuing Education and Extension. The goal is to help the visiting students improve their English and experience American communication and culture.

Part of the experience showcases life in La Crosse by exploring downtown, seeing a movie at the Rivoli, attending a Loggers baseball game and volunteering. “Several of the students really enjoyed the volunteering and told me they felt good about helping people,” says Katie Nauth, an organizer of the program.

Organizers plan to run the program again next summer and may expand it to multiple programs with students from multiple places, such as La Crosse’s sister city Luoyang, China or other countries.