Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Whale Watching with South Bay Students

Language Systems South Bay students had quite the adventure last month while on a whale watching trip! 22 students plus PC Sylvia enjoyed an eventful day out on the water.

The day started off quite foggy and we were concerned about visibility and whether we would be able to see anything. By the time we all arrived and boarded the boat, the fog had burned off and it was a beautiful sunny day! Our vessel was called “The Indian,” and Captain Mike and his crew greeted us with friendly smiles. 

Peggy, a volunteer from Naturalist of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium/American Cetacean Society taught us many interesting things about the wildlife, coastline, and history during the trip. She was very informative and answered any questions we had.

As soon as the boat left the harbor, we could see some sea lions that live very close to the harbor. Peggy also pointed out a bird called the cormorant. This bird is interesting because it dives deep into the water for its food and later rests on the rocks drying their feathers.

Despite the sunny skies, the water was a bit rough. The ocean was rocking our boat more than we liked and before we could see any whales or dolphins, some students began to feel sea sick! 

One student even fainted! Captain Mike and his crew are very concerned about passenger safety and so they called on the Coast Guard to come and check on our student.

While we waited for them to arrive, we could hear a helicopter circling above our boat.

 While we waited for them to arrive, we could hear a helicopter circling above our boat. The Coast Guard arrived quickly assessed our student for any injuries. They then decided to call in the Lifeguards to get our student off The Indian as soon as possible to take him to a nearby hospital to make sure he was totally fine. The Lifeguards got our student off our boat and onto their boat and took him to an ambulance waiting on shore.

 Once our student was safe with the Lifeguards, Captain Mike took us farther out to sea. We began seeing a pair of gray whales. The whales spend long periods of time underwater, but you can see where they will emerge by a looking for a spray of water. Gray whales migrate from Baja, Mexico to Alaska every year; they travel up to Alaska to eat as much as they can and breed. 

During their journey down south, female gray whales are likely carrying a baby gray whale that they will deliver in Baja. The migration takes place every year from January to April.

We saw the pair of gray whales breach the water several times. Some of our students were still a bit seasick, but nevertheless excited to see some whales! 

On our way back to the harbor, a pod of dolphins followed out boat back and “surfed” with us! What an exciting day! 

I hope our students will remember this adventure for a long time!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Echo Park Experience!

An urban hike through one of LA's hippest neighborhoods. 

We began the Sunday afternoon climbing the legendary Baxter Stairs for a view of Elysian Park (Dodger Stadium!) and DTLA. 

, we strolled down Echo Park Lane, popular for vibrant street art, stopping for a quick nibble from the famous "blue quesadilla" street cart vendor. 

Later, we arrived at the scenic Echo Park Lake where we relaxed on paddle boats and enjoyed the warm, sunny weather. 

Lastly, we walked down Sunset for our final destination of Button Mash. 

An Asian fusion restaurant complete with a 1980s arcade and pawn shop.

It was a wonderful Sunday! ​

Friday, March 17, 2017

Basketball Tournament Memories

The morning of March 10, 2017 was filled with the energy of the students arriving at our annual basketball tournament.  People were wearing smiles and their proud school colors to support their school’s team.  Their spirits were high and their voices even higher.  The court began to fill up with students and the fun began as the game whistles went off.  Program coordinators running around trying to keep things in order, Office Managers trying to organize staff, and our Marketing team doing their best to make sure everything was going as planned.

Nothing is easy about the tournament; some teams have trained for weeks.  There was some serious planning behind this entire event, but it’s worth it to see the students smiling and using their voices to show their happiness to watch their classmates try their best at basketball.  The games were packed with action and filled with drama.  Some games were so close that they had to be decided on free throws.  People were biting their nails, losing their voices, and some making new friends.  In the end the team from OC was the victor and proud champion for the year.  So congratulations to the Orange County Champions. That’s what the basketball tournament is about; interactions that help motivate students to use their English to build lifetime friendships. 

We are committed at Language Systems to making our events memorable experiences.  Language Systems is built from the efforts of people that care about student progress and their quality of life in the United States.  We are about inclusion, understanding, and respect.  We want our students to experience as much as possible and remember us for good times and learning experiences that help them become international ambassadors, even if it’s with a simple basketball tournament.  So don’t be shy and participate with all your classmates.  Who knows, you may surprise yourself with how much English and life skills you’ve learned.

 By Carlos Takashima, PC at NELA

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sriracha Factory Tour

Last February 17, NELA students took a tour of the famous Sriracha sauce factory.  I’m sure you have seen, or heard, of the famous sauce in most restaurants, as it has become quite popular in recent years.  It’s difficult to miss with its distinctive bright red color and green top.

We were very lucky to see the inside operations and workings of such a popular item.  The tour guide gave us some history about the owner and how kind he is to all his workers.  She guided us through their shipping warehouse and the processing machines.  The machines were loud and had many moving parts and processes.  It was fascinating to see how much work and effort is placed to provide the public with something we often take for granted.  The students were curious and excited to see everything put together from simple elements and ingredients. 

At the end of the tour, we were taken to their merchandise store and we were given a free, small bottle, of Sriracha.  

They were very kind and helpful to us, even though we had a torrential downpour that day.  We hope we can visit again to get the full tour, as we were given a limited one due to the rain.  It was a great experience and students enjoyed it.

 By Carlos Takashima, PC at NELA

Friday, February 24, 2017

White Month (Tsagaan Sar)

COME CELEBRATE Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian Lunar New Year) at the Downtown Campus on Tuesday, February 28th, from 5:00 to 6:00 pm!

Mongolians celebrate Tsagaan Sar, the Lunar New Year, in January or February each year. In 2017, Tsagaan Sar will be celebrated February 27–March 1, 2017, beginning the Year of the Fire Chicken.

The family hides a coin in one buuz (mutton dumpling). The person who bites into that buuz will be prosperous in the new year. Discovering the buuz filled with rice foretells a year with plenty to eat. Bituun, Tsagaan Sar Eve, is a day of preparation. The family cleans the ger (nomadic home) and makes sure that everything starts the new year full: piles of firewood, containers of flour, and, with the evening feast, everyone's stomachs.

Greet everyone on Tsagaan Sar, except your spouse. Married couples become one person when married, and thus have no need to greet each other. On Shiniin Negen, the first day of Tsagaan Sar, families rise early to greet the year's first sunrise. People greet each other in a tradition called zolgolt, in which the younger person holds the older person's arms in a symbol of respect.

During Tsagaan Sar, families often play with shagai, sheep ankle bones. An ankle bone's four sides represent sheep, goats, camels and horses.After greeting family on Shiniin Negen, Mongolians visit friends and coworkers' families on the following days of Tsagaan Sar. The fifteenth day of the lunar year is particularly auspicious. Even months after Tsagaan Sar, Mongolians greet each other with zolgolt on their first meeting of the lunar year.