ALC Celebrates 40 Years

ALC in 1977 and 2016

This year we celebrate 40 years of the American Language & Culture (ALC) program! The genesis of this program took place in 1977, when two Japanese universities approached VIA to create a program that could immerse their students in the English language and expose them to American culture. After a successful launch, ALC continued to grow not just in number of participants but also bringing students from other parts of Asia making the program even more international.

This transformational program now brings together around 130 students annually from mainland China, Japan, Korea, Macau, and Taiwan to live and learn on the Stanford campus. During their stay, the students take intensive English courses offered by the Stanford Language Center in which they complete a research paper and give a final presentation on an aspect of American culture. The rest of the program consists of exploring American culture by visiting a tech company or start-up, engaging in volunteer work, and attending interactive panels to hear more about social issues like LGBTQ rights. However, the greatest impact is the one the students have on each other. They come with their own ways of thinking, cultural stereotypes, and assumptions. However, they leave with new perspectives, deeper insights, and life-long friends.

Here is what recent participants are saying about the program:

The ALC program gave me a chance to have the passion to overcome challenges, and a good sense to see the world in a different way. Even now, I can clearly say that the summer that I spent with my great friends, Stanford student coordinators, and professors at Stanford University is the best one that I’ve ever had. That summer changed my entire life.

~ Japanese participant

“The ALC program opened the door to a summer school with diverse students and opportunities through English practice and social communication. ALC was exactly the kind of program I was longing for. And in fact, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. After the program, I decided to study Japanese. Every time when I hear myself speaking in Japanese, I feel closer to my ALC friends from Japan. Through the program I experienced that close human connections is what can make things different.

~ Chinese participant

Since the birth of the ALC program in 1977, VIA has continued to design immersive programs in Silicon Valley for students from Asia in the areas of health care, social innovation, service-learning, and leadership. Over 6,000 Asian students have participated in VIA’s programs in the US and we are committed to providing impactful programs to more students in the years to come.

Read more reflections from our summer 2016 programs in the VIAlogue!