In the news: Chinese students looking for the elite American boarding school experience, Marvelwood School, a U.S. boarding school, said to be disillusioned

‘Don’t Know English’

Asked if recruiting the Chinese fits the mission, English department chairman W. Michael Augusta said, “Their learning difference is they don’t know English.” He added, “Our Pacific Rim population is helpful to our balancing the budget.”

Chinese enrollment at Marvelwood declined to “three dozen” in September, Goodearl said. If Marvelwood takes a student through an agent, that agent should be paid by the family, not the school, he said. Marvelwood, which had $1.4 million in endowment funds as of June 2010, offers financial aid to international students, he said.

The surge in Chinese enrollment dismayed both American and Chinese students at Marvelwood.

“There were some times when the American students would get a little annoyed,” said 2011 graduate Adam Shapiro. “The Chinese students would hang out in big groups, 15 or 20 students. It was just very separated. There was supposedly a rule that the Chinese kids were supposed to speak English. They never followed through with it.”

Cultural Boundaries

“When I was at Marvelwood, I always hang out with people from my own country,” said Shanghai native Qian Wang, 20, who graduated in 2010 and is a sophomore at Michigan State University in East Lansing. “I cannot learn different language or culture.”

Lack of progress in English hampered 2011 graduate Po Kai Chang’s transition from Marvelwood to Michigan State. Chang, 19, comes from Taiwan, which more than doubled the number of students it sends to U.S. boarding schools to 512 in 2010-2011 from 206 five years earlier, according to Homeland Security[26].

Chang, who hung out mainly with Taiwanese friends in his three years at Marvelwood, was admitted on a provisional basis to Michigan State because he scored below the university’s minimum on an English test, he said. He is taking English full- time and must become proficient within a year to remain enrolled.

“We want to improve the fluency of every student so they can transition smoothly to their next destination,” Goodearl said.

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