Monthly Archives: December 2014

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Celebrating the Holidays Abroad

Celebrating the Holidays Abroad

Studying abroad invites students to learn and embrace new customs and traditions. New Oasis International Education students have had the opportunity to experience the traditions of American families, including their Holiday traditions.

During the month of December, Student Coordinators planned and hosted holiday celebrations for students and their host families. These events helped introduce traditional American customs to the students, while providing the opportunity to begin new traditions within each community. The team at New Oasis enjoyed hearing the many different ways our students celebrated. Here are just a few of our favorite stories:

 Students at Cape Henry Collegiate and Norfolk Collegiate schools joined together for a special party. The student coordinators, Dahl and Jack Evartt worked to plan a large holiday event in a local Virginia Beach community center inviting students, families and teachers.  Everyone joined together and enjoyed a gift exchange, holiday wreath making, and of course, a seasonal feast!

"Kevin" Wenbin Q, "David" Zhuowei Li and Jack at holiday party

“Kevin” Wenbin Q, “David” Zhuowei Li and Jack at holiday party

 In North Carolina, the students at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School celebrated in a more traditional manner. Student coordinator Cherie LaChocki opened her home up for a holiday soiree. Host families and students felt at home listening to Christmas carols and reflecting on memories from the past year. Homemade Christmas cookies were enjoyed by all!

 At Vail Mountain School in Vail, CO the celebration was on the slopes! The teachers took the students out for ski lessons. The students enjoyed a few days playing on the mountain and dining in historic restaurants throughout the area. They truly were in a winter wonderland!

Snow day in Vail with academic coordinator Leela

Snow day in Vail with academic coordinator Leela

No matter how they celebrated, the importance of family rang true this holiday season for New Oasis students. For many students, this was their first season away from their homes in China and having a loving, supportive host family to enjoy the holidays with made a world of difference.

Thank you to all of the host families, student coordinators, and communities that are making this a wonderful holiday season for the students of New Oasis International Education. New Oasis wishes you all a very Happy Holiday Season.


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Test taking skills- from New Oasis Academic Coordinators

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December in the US is a time generally associated with holiday cheer, fun filled snow days, and time with family. During all of the festivities, it is important for students to remember that January is sneaking up with mid-terms or final exams. Students often feel overwhelmed by their approaching exams. This is especially true in the cases of international students trying to improve their English language, and adjusting to their new school’s expectations.

New Oasis asked our academic coordinators for their advice on what they have found to be helpful for their students when preparing for big tests.

The coordinators agree that the History and English exams are the two exams students should spend additional time preparing for. These subjects can be challenging for international students due to the extensive amount of new vocabulary. Furthermore, the Social Science classes introduce many topics that these students do not have any background in. While students in the U.S. have been introduced to American history in elementary and middle school, the international students are learning about these issues for the first time.

Of course, setting aside study time is not enough, students must also study effectively. Kristen has advised students to chunk the material, “The study guides can be overwhelming. I always recommend my students break down (chunk/scaffold) the sections (i.e. vocab., short answer, essay) and study one section at a time.” Chunking is essentially breaking the information down into smaller, more manageable parts. This technique makes memorization easier.

For example:


Joy has seen students excel in exams when utilizing their peers, “Utilize other peers that do exceptionally well in the class, and ask them to help you prepare for the exam via individual peer tutoring sessions or a group study session.”  Students should be advised that simply asking your friends may not be the most effective study group. Duke University has some great tips for creating a successful study group.

Taking practice quizzes can also assist students in identifying where they need extra attention. Quizlet lets students create online flashcards and quiz students on the material. This site has been a favorite of Joy’s students.

Quizlet pic

Our academic coordinators and advisers all agreed that technology is the biggest distraction for students while studying. Students should turn their phones off, or remove them from their room while studying. Technology breaks can even be used as an incentive, for example, “If I study my English for 45 minutes then I can take a 15 minute break to play the new game that I downloaded”.

Students must also remember that there are some basics to remember to reduce stress, and make the most of studying. These include:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Frequent breaks between studying
  • Eating a healthy breakfast on test day

Students are encouraged to talk to their host family for any help or questions that they may have when preparing for mid-term or final exams. Also, don’t forget to schedule a meeting with a New Oasis Academic Adviser. Our team is available Monday-Friday to help students create study plans and provide additional resources to help prepare.

Meet the Academic Coordinators:

Joy Mathes serves as Academic Coordinator for New Oasis International Education in the Raleigh, North Carolina area for North Raleigh Christian Academy. Joy has over 12 years’ experience as a teacher.   In the fall of 2012, Joy joined the team at New Oasis International Education as the Academic Coordinator for international students at North Raleigh Christian Academy

Kristen Allen serves as the Academic Coordinator for Gaston Day School in Gastonia, North Carolina. Kristen has been teaching for 14 years. Kristen graduated from California State University Long Beach with a BA degree in English and an emphasis in Education. Kristen later graduated with her MS degree in Educational Administration from California State University Fullerton and then went on to obtain her teaching credential.


Joy and Kristen




Duke.  (2014, December 15). How to Form a Successful Study Group: Tip and Strategies. Retrieved from Duke:

Quizlet. (2015, December 15). Retrieved from



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Featured Student: Xilin Xu “Celine” from North Yarmouth Academy

Featured Student: Xilin Xu “Celine” from North Yarmouth Academy

 Xilin Xu, “Celine” is an 11th grade student studying at North Yarmouth Academy in Maine. Most 11th graders barely have enough time to prepare for the SAT, college applications, and their classwork; however, Celine, has found time to manage these demands and begin a Chinese Dance Club at her school.

Celine began her study abroad experience in January 2014 at NYA. At that time she wanted to pursue her interest in the dance arts but it was too late in the school year. Using that time to focus on her grades, Celine patiently waited for the fall to propose her club to the school.

This fall she took the leap to begin a brand new club. Celine’s host mother helped her prepare the needed materials to make a proposal to the teachers at the school. Once the school approved, Celine leveraged the friendships she had formed to begin recruiting additional dancers. Celine is proud to have a variety of students on the team, including domestic students who are learning about Chinese traditional dance. Celine thinks that sharing her culture is important, “As an international student I learned many new things, like American culture or history, but it’s really nice to share my own culture with American students. We can learn more from each other”.

New Oasis academic adviser, Katherine, has worked with Celine since January 2013 advising her on academics and participating in school. Early on, Katherine shared past success stories of New Oasis students with Celine to help give her the confidence needed to start a club. When Celine wanted to plan her performance for next year (2015) Katherine advised, “As a junior, the spring is very busy with SATs and other standardized tests. I encouraged Celine to plan her performance for this fall so that she could  manage her study time and other upcoming priorities”. Katherine was also instrumental in highlighting Celine’s achievements to our team so that she would be a featured student.

Celine is encouraged by the leadership skills she is developing through the club,

“Because I organized the dancing club I learned more about how to be a good leader. You need to think about other kids in your club, when you teach them something new and they can’t quite understand it, you need to be patient to them. At first, I just felt a little nervous because English is my second language and I needed to use English to teach my friends, and other classmates. After three times doing that I felt more comfortable, it was a good experience.”

This fall Celine’s dance team performed at a benefit for the Make a Wish Foundation. Celine really enjoyed this experience, “I learned many things from this activity. It showed me the information about the group of kids and I feel like I did a meaningful thing to help the kids like that”.

Celine continues to have goals for her club. She would like to introduce other elements of traditional Chinese dance to the club, as well as incorporating them into future performances. Celine also realizes that it will be a challenge to attract new club members and promote performances, but she is willing to take on the challenge head on.

Celine’s recent dance performance and interview can be found on our Vimeo site by clicking here.