By Frank Fernandez
Every year Smithtown Christian School takes in students from all around the world. This year, SCS is hosting students from South Korea and China. There are a total of the 20 international students; fourteen are from South Korea and six are from China.
Mrs. Ellen Gennaro is the ESL teacher for Smithtown Christian. She has been doing this job for the past eight years. Mrs. Gennaro was offered the position when former ESL teacher Pastor Salvatore Greco retired. As the head of the International Student department, she has two main jobs: teach English to the students and manage the incoming students by evaluating applications, supplying information, and finding and connecting willing host families for the students.
Senior Yeonji Kim, a student from South Korea, has been attending Smithtown Christian for eight years, since the fourth grade. She remembers her first year here as the most difficult.
“I couldn’t understand anyone, and I did badly in class,” says Yeonji. “I didn’t have much of the English language learned yet, so homework and essays were especially difficult. American schools are so much different than schools in Korea, so it was hard to get used to the change.” In South Korea, schools are mostly focused on listening, memorizing, and tests instead of asking questions and class participation in American schools. “Everyone here is so nice and so full of love. I’m so glad that I came here.”
“Having [international students] is a big benefit to the school,” says Mrs. Gennaro. “Everyone should get to know them and make friends. They bring a little piece of their country with them, and it’s nice to see the diffusion of cultures.”