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Students from Russia, China get taste of America through SUNY Canton summer program

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CANTON — Although SUNY Canton has hosted international students for five summers in a row, this was the first year that they cried wolf.

Fourteen students in the college’s English as a Second Language course spent Friday morning performing Russian and Chinese folktales, which included a version of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” for an audience of children and adults at the Canton Farmers Market. A total of 26 students are visiting the college in July, the majority coming from Russia’s Kazan State Finance and Economics Institute and Lomonosov Moscow State University.

For the first time this summer, two students also are attending the program from China’s Guangdong Women’s Polytechnic College, with which SUNY Canton hopes to create a stronger partnership.

“We want to expand internationally. We want to create partnerships with universities where we see a potential to grow different programs and also where our faculty can lead a group of American students to visit those universities,” said Marela Fiacco, SUNY Canton’s director of international programs. “They’re really a super group of students this year — they’re just sweethearts. We enjoy them, we really do.”

The students, all of whom are college sophomores, juniors or seniors, have been spending mornings in classes and afternoons participating in educational activities or cultural excursions. Some of the students are completing dual degrees with SUNY Canton and their home universities, but all will receive certificates of participation for the non-credit program.

Having arrived July 11, the international students will depart after their graduation ceremony Thursday. Approximately half of them are enrolled in the program’s English as a Second Language course, with the other half taking a global finance, economics and culture class.

“I have gained some practical speaking skills,” said Alexander Krasnoselskikh, a narrator of one of Friday’s folktales and an economics student at Lomonosov Moscow State University. “We have a good grammar education in Russia but we have no time to speak it, and here we can practice. We’ve learned some interesting phrases and idioms.”

In addition to their classes, the students have experienced American culture by watching movies, participating in campus barbecues and bonfires, going out for ice cream and having dinner with various families around the north country. Their schedule also included trips to the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, Niagara Falls, Lake Placid, the Thousand Islands and New York City.

“I think it’s a very nice place. The people are very different from Russians,” Mr. Krasnoselskikh said. “They are more open; they speak with unfamiliar people. In Russia, it’s very difficult to speak with someone in the streets; here, it’s very easy. Now I know what Americans are really like.”

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