On a bright and breezy autumnal Monday morning I get off of the bus, and walk down Great Eastern Street to the ECBM building. For me it’s just a normal day, but for the 19 students I see congregating with their group leader on the corner of the street it is a day they will never forget, because it is ‘day one’ in London on their Professional Development Programme (PDP).
I say ‘day one’, but in fact the group leader and their team have been giving time from their busy schedules to make this programme offering possible for their students, addressing the necessary planning and administration requirements in liaison with the ECBM PDP team. The students have been making their applications for a place on the programme, making preparations for three weeks in London, and the prospect of studying in a second language.
There is anticipation in the air. In class, introductions are being made. The ECBM teachers are friendly, and they speak at a pace which suits the students’ language skills. We put them at their ease. We prepare them for what is to come. We know that some will be faster learners than others, or more fluent speakers than others, but the important things is that they are all here together sharing the same positive attitude and desire to grow, and so our welcome is warm and genuine.
By Thursday everyone is settling in. The London way of life is becoming familiar, the transport system is far less confusing, and yes they have successfully undertaken a range of business classes in English. They can do it! There will be taken on excursions around places of interest not on the usual London tourist map, and it will be great just to soak up the atmosphere of Victorian cobbled streets, or narrow alleyways in the City. After lessons, the students are making plans for their first weekend and nights out together in London, and probably not to the library this time! There is so much to see and do.
Before long it is the final week. Presentations are being perfected, exam questions are being prepared for, and on Friday a ‘farewell’ takes place. Most students want to return to their friends and family and their own bed, but equally don’t want to leave the vibrancy of London’s unique atmosphere. Some however will return for holidays. Some will return at the appropriate time to enrol on one of our Undergraduate Study Programmes. We will be pleased to see them all.
It is such a pleasure to work with these students, with their strong work ethic and positive zest for life, achieving so many things so young. Their self-confidence has grown, they know they can work in English, and their resumes have a valuable addition which employers will value. I did not have the confidence to do what they are doing at 19 or 20 years old, so it is rewarding now to be part of a team – the group leaders, the ECBM programme management, the ECBM teachers – which can provide the arena in which they can enrich their lives and build memories and experiences that will last a life time.