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LEWISTON – Twelve international students have spent their summer learning the English language and being immersed in the culture of the United States at a new camp at Niagara University.

The students, ages 19 to 21, include nine from China, two from Vietnam and one from Turkey. They will receive a certificate of completion and have a “graduation” from English Summer Camp at 11 a.m. Friday.

The program provides four hours of language instruction each day, which is based on their proficiency. They get practice in conversation, reading and writing, as well as a chance to work in the technology lab.

There’s also time to take part in a number of cultural and recreational activities that are part of summer in Western New York, including a ride on the Maid of the Mist, fireworks at Niagara Falls State Park, a hike in the Niagara River Gorge, a concert at Artpark and a Buffalo Bisons game.

“It’s very important for us to learn the language, but it’s also important for us to see another country, another culture,” said Zhang Guoshan, a student at Shanghai Industrial and Commerce Foreign Language College.

“It’s increasingly important for institutions of higher education to prepare graduates for a globalized workplace,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, president of Niagara University. “Today’s technology allows us to be citizens of the world, but we must do so responsibly and with the proper education that readies students for the interface of cultures.”

He said the summer camp also opens the visiting student to the beauty of Western New York and the warmth of the people who live here.

Deborah T. Curtis, director of Niagara University’s Center for Events and Management Development, is overseeing the program, and Niagara’s hospitality majors organized the group’s daily afternoon and evening activities.

Vu Xuan Thai, who attends Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, Vietnam, called the summer camp “amazing.”

He said, “It is the first time I’ve gone abroad to the United States. To see everything is wonderful for me. Niagara University is very beautiful.”

Student Erdal Ozturk used the camp as a chance to travel from Turkey and visit his uncle and an aunt who is a professor at Niagara University.

He said he still prefers the cuisine of his homeland.

“I like the American food, but it is different,” Ozturk said.

email: niagaranews@buffnews.com