Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Spirit

Recently I was teaching our Level 7 Speaking class and I asked them this question, “What is your favorite American Holiday, and why?” In that class were students from France, Brazil, Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Holland, and Saudi Arabia. One student from Taiwan said, “My favorite American holiday is Christmas because I can actually feel the ‘Christmas Spirit.’  I can’t describe exactly what I mean, but around Christmas time I feel the warmth, the kindness, and the peace of American people.”  As an American, I knew exactly what this student meant.
American college students like Christmas because that usually means the end of a hard semester of reading assignments, group projects, exams, and final papers. Christmas is the time for a break from school that can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. It’s a time when students usually return to their hometowns to spend the holidays with family and friends.
American children love Christmas time because it means Santa Clause will be coming by their house on Christmas Eve with a bag full of presents. One of the most exciting feelings for American children is waking up Christmas morning, jumping out of bed, rushing to wherever the Christmas tree is and discovering gifts of different shapes and sizes with OUR name on them. I got one of my greatest Christmas gifts when I was about 7 years old – my very own Red Rider BB gun!  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a long skinny package under our Christmas tree. I knew exactly what it was.  The year was 1979, and back then my neighborhood was surrounded by groves of lemon trees. I used to run threw those lemon groves all day until it got too dark to see what I was shooting at. I imagined myself to be some rough and tough cowboy on the western frontier on the hunt for giant buffalo or wild turkey.  I mostly ended up shooting rusty old coke cans and cardboard boxes. Anyways, Christmas is a magical time for American children.

But the true meaning of Christmas is not about shopping, getting cool gifts, or taking a break from school.  The heart and true meaning of Christmas can only be discovered by looking at the birth of baby Jesus over 2000 years ago and trying to understand what this means for the millions of Christians around the world. For them, Christmas is a time to celebrate the wonder of Jesus’ birth. There are many religions in the world, and there are people in America who have no religion at all. But there are a few things that almost everybody wishes for in life, regardless of religion or culture. These things are peace, happiness, meaning, love and hope. These things are at the heart of Christmas, and it is these things that create the true “Christmas Spirit.”

Author: Ty Mussack (Program Coordinator at our Orange County Campus)
Taken from our monthly e-Newsletter

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Volunteer Work @ The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

On December 3rd, our Downtown Campus teacher (Caroline) and a group of LSI students worked alongside Disney, USC, CAA & Americorp. It was truly a wonderful organization & all had a great time. They had a brief orientation before beginning & watched a video of LA Food Bank's great mission: to fight hunger & give hope.
Caroline is very happy several of her LSI students joined her for this volunteer event. They were all inspired & ready to come back to help again.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Discover L.A.: Cafe Gratitude

Cafe Gratitude is an organic vegan restaurant specializing in gourmet vegan cuisine. They select the nest organic ingredients and support local farmers, sustainable agriculture and environmentally friendly products. The entrees come in large portions that can be shared. The first time I dined at the restaurant was with my friend Mike, and have since taken many friends there. My favorite drink on the menu is the ‘I am Cool’ which is a mint chocolate chip milkshake with Vitamineral green and raw cacao nibs. Yes, the menu gives all of the dishes monikers like "I Am Liberated" or "I Am Festive," which are meant to add to the overall positive vibe. The menu is seasonal and is always evolving so if you have eaten there in the summer and loved a soup, you might be disappointed to not and it on their menu in the fall. What consistently stays on the menu is the ‘I Am grateful,’ their community supported grain bowl. Café Gratitude chooses a local non-pro t supplier and all pro ts from that dish are donated. The minimum donation is $3. Some of my other favorite things on the menu this summer have been the ‘I am Warm hearted,’ a grilled pesto polenta with a summer vegetable ratatouille, cashew crème fraiche, almond parmesan and basil, and the ‘I am whole’ a macrobiotic bowl with sea vegetables, summersquash, adzuki beans, sautéed kale, house-made kimchee, sea whip and black sesame seed gomasio. The prices are pretty reasonable and range from $9-20. And if you want to finish your meal off with a wonderful dessert I highly recommend the ‘I Am Lovely,’ gluten-free seasonal cooked fruit cobbler served with homemade ice cream.

Taken from our monthly e-Newsletter.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Three days of volunteering at the Midnight Mission!

Our LSI Downtown campus teacher, Caroline was allowed to bring about 10-15 volunteers to help out at the Midnight Mission-- they were fully booked already but welcomed them still.
On Saturday 11/23, they were 12 total who came to volunteer. Both Sushant and Daniel (LSI teachers) came to support as well. Very positive vibe in there, everyone was laughing and having a good time. All were eager to help out any way they could. Main job they had was cutting up LOTS of ham and vegetables.
Sunday, 11/24, she had 10 LSI student. Main job they had was cutting turkey. 
Monday 11/25, was the biggest group she had. 15 total. Finished cutting all turkey and helped with yam prep. Most had never cut turkey before but the head chef trained them well with the knife:) The LA Times interviewed several of them and took lots of pictures. 

Overall, Caroline was amazed and happy with the turnout since she had only four days to get volunteers to sign up!

We would like to thank Caroline and everyone that participated in this whole thing :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Discover L.A.: Madrona Marsh Preserve - Torrance, CA

The Madrona Marsh Preserve, located in Torrance, California, is the last
vernal marsh remaining in the South Bay area of Los Angeles and one of
few wetlands located within an urban landscape.
Formed eons ago when the mountains of the Palos Verdes Peninsula
rose to the south, Madrona Marsh is a shallow depression fed by wet
season (spring) storms as the name "vernal" indicates. After the rainy
season, evaporation, percolation and transpiration reduce the water
depth by about one-quarter of an inch (6 mm) per day. By the end of
August, the wetland is dry and remains so until the following rainy
season. Situated on land that was set aside for oil production in 1924,
Madrona Marsh was never developed—unlike the surrounding
city—and remains a valuable natural habitat for birds, reptiles, insects
and even small mammals.
Ongoing e orts are restoring native plants including wild owers and
butter y species. The area has long been popular with bird watchers and
The Audubon Society has used Madrona Marsh for their annual bird
census since 1967. El Camino College uses it as an outdoor biology and
botany lab. Public access to the Madrona Marsh trails is o ered Tuesday
through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and guided tours can be arranged
by calling the Nature Center (310) 782-3989.
Activities include bird and nature walks, natural history classes and
workshops, habitat restoration, science and astronomy programs, art
exhibits, and children's nature programs. The center opened in 2001 and
features exhibits about the plants, birds and animals of the marsh.
The marsh and nature center are closed to the public on Mondays.
From Wikipedia

Taken from our monthly e-Newsletter.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Halloween Bash 2013

Friday night, November 1, hundreds of international students from the 4 LSI campuses got together for our annual LSI Halloween Bash. Oiwake Restaurant, in downtown LA's little Tokyo area, was the gathering place for zombies, pirates, ghosts, rockstars, police women, and many other characters. Our LSI students always do such a wonderful job dressing up for this amazing party. 

The party started off with an amazing all-you-can-eat buffet featuring favorite Japanese foods such as tempura, curry, California rolls, teriyaki chicken, karage, soba, mapo tofu, and much more. After that students from around the party were given the chance to win prizes if they could answer questions on Halloween trivia.  Believe it or not, not many of them realized that a black cat is the animal most commonly associated with Halloween in America.
After dinner there was an impersonation contest and a contest the find the funniest, scariest, and most original costumes. One amazing student from LA won the impersonation contest by dressing and dancing just like Michael Jackson. I hear that he spent many many hours practicing for the contest. So what did he win?  $200 cash!
The night ended with LSI students, fully dressed in their Halloween costumes, tearing up the dance floor late in the morning hours as the DJ dropped his jams for all to enjoy. I'm sure this party left a lasting impression in the memories of our LSI students. It was a great opportunity for them to experience how fun Halloween in America can be! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

LSI Beach Party 2013

On August 23, 2013, LSI students from all four LSI Schools (Downtown LA, Northeast LA, South Bay, and Orange County) were treated to a fantastic day of Beach Summer Fun at LSI’s Annual 2013 Beach Party in Huntington Beach, California.  Festivities started with the Annual LSI Beach Volleyball Tournament where representatives from each school participated in a competitive (but fun) Beach Volleyball competition.  All four Volleyball teams played an amazing single-set game against each other which ultimately led to a tie-breaker round between LSI-Northeast LA and LSI-South Bay.  The South Bay Volleyball team proved their mettle by taking the 2013 Championship cup in the end!
Following a brief period of lunch on the beach (courtesy of LSI’s fantastic culinary team), the schools gathered once again to participate in a number of Beach Water Game competitions.  Schools were first able to compete in a Tug-of-War competition where LSI – South Bay proved once again to be victorious in this event.  This was shortly followed by our Stick Game event, where one boy and one girl from each school raced to secure a “stick” in a number of elimination rounds.  In the women’s event, Yan Shan Lin (Linda from LSI-Northeast LA Campus) proved herself to be the fastest girl in LSI! 
The next competition was the Fill-the-Bucket game in which ten students from each campus raced to fill a bucket with ocean water.  Although it was a close race, LSI-Northeast LA students were declared the winners of this event.  Nobody fills a bucket like LSI-Northeast LA!
The final event of the day was LSI’s Disgusting Food contest.  In this food event, five contestants from each school competed in eating a variety of “strange foods” which included Bitter Melon, Dried Squid, and Snickers caramel/chocolate bars in the shortest time possible.  LSI-Downtown LA proved themselves to be the hungriest team on the beach by “wolfing down” all of their “disgusting” food in less than ten minutes!
Needless to say, everybody had an amazing day at the beach and we are all looking forward to next year’s Beach Event!  Thank you LSI for all the happy memories!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Discover LA: One of the world's most famous movie theatres

The Egyptian Theatre was built in 1922 by Sid Grauman, it's one of the world's most famous movie theatres, and also the site of the very first Hollywood movie premiere, Robin Hood with Douglas Fairbanks.

It's located at 6712 Hollywood Blvd, a 20 minute bus ride from LSI's Downtown Campus.

Tours are available once a month. 
For more information, please visit:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Discover LA: Surf City Nights in Huntington Beach

If you find yourself traveling through Orange County in the Summer, one place you should definitely visit is the Huntington Beach Surf City Nights. Actually, this special event takes place every Tuesday night 12 months out of the year from 5pm-9pm. Even though you can attend a Surf City night in the month of December, you will be able to experience California culture in it’s purest form if you can go to a Surf City night in the Summer.
So, what makes Surf City Nights so special? Well, every Tuesday night the city of Huntington Beach closes down 4-5 blocks of Main St. to provide a festival or fair-like atmosphere for locals as well as tourists who come from around the world. As you walk along Main St. on a Surf City night, you will be able to see several different bands playing live music. It is possible to hear punk, jazz, reggae, and classic rock all on the same night! In addition to the cool music, Surf City nights will give you the opportunity to experience some amazing flavors of American street food. Make sure you arrive with an empty stomach because it will be hard to resist the flood of smells as you walk by street stands that are selling bacon-wrapped street dogs, mediterranean kabobs, carne asada fries, Baja-style fish tacos, Thai food, tamales, and much more!  Oh yeah, and for dessert, there’s kettle corn, funnel cakes, and homemade churros.
If all this sounds too unhealthy, you’re still in luck because Surf City Night is also a farmer’s market where you can but the freshest fruits, vegetables, juices, and smoothies.
If you like shopping, then you will think you are in heaven! On Main St. you will find many cool surf shops where you can buy brands like Roxy, Hurley, Vans, Quicksilver, Ripcurl, and many more. On a Surf City Night you will also find street vendors selling hand-made arts and crafts, many of the art being related to California culture and history. When your feet start hurting and you need a break from walking along Main St., you can head to the beach and sit on the sand while you watch local surfers enjoy one of California’s most interesting sport – surfing!  In the Summer, the sun sets around 7-8pm so you can also enjoy a beautiful sunset.  If you can, try to make down to Huntington Beach on a Tuesday night.  You will love it!

Taken from our monthly e-Newsletter.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Celebration 2013

 On July 19, 2013, students, teachers, and staff all gathered at Gaucho’s Village in Glendale to celebrate LSI’s recent accreditation with ACCET.
The celebration was held in a Brazilian style restaurant and the evening started out with an all-you-can-eat buffet and Brazilian barbecue.  The food was amazing and everyone enjoyed sampling different types of meat that were being offered at the tables.

Then Brazilian Samba dancers entertained everyone first by performing on stage in beautiful costumes. After a few performances, the Samba dancers went into the crowd to bring up some teachers and students to dance on stage with them!  After a while, everyone was dancing like a pro and the crowd was clapping along. After the Samba dancers were finished, a crowd of people went up on stage to get pictures with the dancers.

Next, on behalf of LSI, the Academic Director, Michelle Buell, thanked all the teachers, program coordinators, staff, managers, and students for making accreditation possible.
Once the performances were finished, it was party time! The DJ arrived, the music was pumping and the people were dancing! For people who needed a break from dancing, there was a hookah bar in the back of the restaurant where they could hang out with friends.

Everyone enjoyed the celebration and we are all looking forward to the next big party at LSI!
Thank you LSI for such an amazing night!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Discover LA: Where the largest collection of art in the LA area lies

Conveniently located between La Brea Ave and Fairfax Ave on Wilshire Blvd (only a 7 minute drive west from LSI Downtown), you will find LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). LACMA boasts the largest collection of art in the LA area with over 15,000 pieces! Right now, LACMA is featuring exhibitions of the works of the supremely influential Italian painter, Caravaggio, and legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. The hours of operation are: Monday - Tuesday 11 AM - 5 PM; Wednesday - Closed; Thursday - Sunday 11 AM - 7 PM. The student discount entrance fee is $10. Enjoy!

Taken from our monthly e-Newsletter.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Discover LA: It's More Than Just A Library!

Where can you see an early edition of Shakespeare, sip tea in a Japanese garden, and roam through a barren desert, all in one afternoon? Established by a wealthy financier in 1919, the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino houses many rare books, famous works of art, and over 120 acres of botanical gardens. Although it's known as the Huntington Library, it's more like a museum than a library. The collection includes many rare books, including a copy of the Gutenberg Bible and a rare manuscript of Canterbury Tales. The art collection, housed in a mansion that was once the home of the Huntington family, contains many famous paintings and sculptures from 18th century England and France.

You could spend hours roaming through the extensive landscape gardens at the Huntington Library. Perhaps most famous is the Japanese garden, where cherry blossom trees overlook a serene pond brimming with colorful koi. The desert garden nearby is an arid landscape, featuring cacti and succulents native to Southern California.

On weekdays, tickets to the Huntington Library and Gardens cost $20.00 for adults, and $10.00 for students. Admission is free on the first Thursday of every month, but you must reserve tickets in advance.

Taken from our monthly e-Newsletter.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Discover LA: An Iconic LA Landmark

“The mission of Griffith Observatory is inspiring everyone to observe, ponder, and understand the sky.”
Overlooking Los Angeles, the Griffith Observatory sits atop Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. It is an iconic LA landmark that has been featured in several movies and on television. Admission to the Observatory building and grounds is FREE. There is a charge to see shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.

Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(213) 473-0800

Taken from our monthly e-Newsletter.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Discover LA: Torrance Certified Farmers' Market

Tuesdays and Saturday | 8:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Charles H. Wilson Park, 2200 Crenshaw Blvd. (between Carson and Sepulveda)
Find fresh produce, local products, meat and eggs, flowers and breads, good food and lots of fun at the Torrance Certified Farmers' Market! Year 'round, rain or shine, in the parking lot of Wilson Park, adjacent to the Dee Hardison Sports Center.

Taken from our monthly e-Newsletter.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Discover LA: The Best Music Store in the World

Perhaps you have driven or ridden by it without ever realize its awesomeness. It is right in the heart of Hollywood next to the famous Arclight Theater. Specifically, it is on Sunset Boulevard and Cahuenga (which is also a fun word to say). The building is very distinctive because it is very colorful with art all over the outside. It’s really hard to miss! But don’t keep going by, you need to go inside to check it out! Believe me, it will be worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of music and movies or both.

First of all, Amoeba Music is huge. It is basically the size of a city block. The first floor is all music-related merchandise, and the second floor contains film and TV DVDs for purchase. The variety of amazing and sometimes rare things to buy is mind-blowing. If you can imagine it, you can get it there! It gets even better because they have new CDs, used CDs, new and used vinyl albums, posters, stickers, T-shirts…it’s unbelievable! I don’t even have a record player or a turntable, but sometimes I pick up some vinyl albums because they often have interesting art that you can use for a cheap and stylish way to decorate your place.

So if you go there, (which I highly recommend), you should prepare for two things: 1) prepare to spend more money than you had originally planned and 2) prepare to have your mind blown! It’s an incredible place, so don’t miss an opportunity to check it out! And rock on!

Taken from our monthly e-Newsletter.

Friday, May 17, 2013

LSI 6th Annual Soccer Tournament

On Friday May 17, Language Systems International (LSI) held its 6th annual Soccer Tournament! All four campuses- South Bay, LA, Orange County (OC), and Northeast LA- joined in with enthusiastic teams and plenty of cheering fans. Everyone wanted to beat last year’s champion, the Northeast LA Dragons, and take back the trophy to display until next year.

The tournament was very exciting, and the competition among the schools was fierce. Each school was represented by students wearing their school colors. The Northeast LA Dragons wore green, the LA Angels wore yellow, the South Bay Sharks wore blue, and the OC students wore red. Some of the countries represented in the tournament included Brazil, Japan, Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Taiwan, and many others.

Each team had been thoroughly prepared by practicing and learning how to work together as a team. Each team also had students cheering them on and encouraging them to do their best for their school! Although each team really wanted to win the soccer trophy, there could only be one champion. In the first round, LA defeated defeated Orange County (OC) and South Bay defeated Northeast LA in overtime. That set up the championship match between the LA Angels and South Bay Sharks. Each school played strong and with a lot of heart, but in the end, the South Bay Sharks came away with the championship trophy. Congratulations, Sharks!

During and after the tournament, students from all four schools had a chance to hang out and make new friends.  After the tournament was finished and the trophy had been passed on to South Bay, LSI provided all the students and players with a pizza lunch. The soccer tournament was a fun event and many students wondered when everyone could get together again. Well, they will not have to wait very long because the next major event involving all 4 LSI schools in a tournament will be the annual Beach Party in August. For that event, each school will need to get a beach volleyball team together to compete for yet another trophy! Mark your calendar and get ready once again for an amazing day!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Earth Day 2013!

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, launching the modern environmental movement. Since then, the Earth Day Network has worked with more than 20,000 partners in almost 200 countries. Through the years, Earth Day has become the largest civic observance in the world.

Each Language Systems campus celebrates Earth Day in a unique way.

This year LSI-OC organized a beach clean-up and really made a difference!

LSI-South Bay has an ongoing recycling program that reduces waste by keeping bottles, cans, and paper out of the trash.

It's great to see so many students, staff, and teachers getting involved and helping out our planet!

Earth Day - Official Site