Yasmen and Yousef Alelaiw didn’t have the best timing when they moved from Saudi Arabia to Michigan.
They arrived in late December, in time for one of the state’s harshest winters. The Alelaiws, who married two years ago, laugh about it now and said it was their first experience with snow.
They are two of about 100 foreign students who study English at the ELS Language Center on 48th Avenue. The center is leasing space from Grand Valley and will move to Au Sable Hall when that building’s renovations are complete in August.
Yasmen Alelaiw said she looks forward to being on the Allendale Campus.
“It will be nice to be included in the university’s life, and to be able to be more involved with the students there,” she said. “I will enjoy being closer to the library, which is my heart. I spend all my time there, studying and reading.”
Alelaiw earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from a Saudi Arabian university. After completing her lessons at the ELS Language Center, she hopes to enroll in a master’s degree program in the Seidman College of Business. Yousef Alelaiw also hopes to earn a master’s degree from Grand Valley.
“It will be nice to improve our English by having conversations with students on campus,” he said. “We would like to know more about American culture and I’m sure some students want to learn about international culture.”
Center director Nicholas Ghiglia said the move will benefit the center and the university. “Our students will be able to associate and interact regularly with Grand Valley students, faculty and staff; and they will get to know our students better,” he said. “Many of our students then matriculate to Grand Valley when they are done with our classes.”
The center’s enrollment has grown so fast, Ghiglia said half of the classes are held at Life Stream Church in Allendale. The center leases buses from Allendale Public Schools to shuttle students and staff members back and forth.
The ELS Language Center in Allendale is one of 60 locations in the U.S. Grand Valley and ELS formed a partnership in 2004.