Two Green Flags; One Great Friendship

Jarrah Carlos and me on the airport ( Good Bye Time)

Carlos Eduardo and Jarrah, saying their goodbyes at the airport

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Not long ago, we posted a picture of two former ESL students who became like sisters after developing a close friendship in our program. Immediately after, two other former students reached out to the office. They also wanted their friendship story to be told.

Jarrah A gift for him

Carlos Eduardo is wearing a traditional Saudi headdress that Jarrah had given him as a gift

Jarrah Kadasah and Carlos Eduardo Guimaraes became best friends while studying in the Rice University ESL Program. They took intensive English classes here for the better part of 2013. Jarrah, from Saudi Arabia, is grateful for how much he learned from Carlos Eduardo. Teachers used to talk about the interesting discussions these two students sparked in class and how they contributed to a constructive learning environment. Carlos Eduardo, a student from Brazil, recalls that when Jarrah first came to the program, he just knew they would be good friends and would learn a lot from each other.

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Carlos Eduardo and Jarrah, who is wearing the traditional dress of Saudi Arabia

Their friendship, of course, extended beyond their classes at Rice’s Intensive English Program. Jarrah fondly remembers that neither of them ever went to the movies, a restaurant or a party without the other. Carlos Eduardo completed the program first, on December 2013, and a few months later he came back to visit his former classmates.

Now living approximately 11,000 km apart, it has been difficult for these previously inseparable friends to reunite.  In an enthusiastically hopeful tone, Jarrah told us, “We have not met since May 2014, but we believe we will meet again soon.”

Jarrah Carlos and me at arabic restaurant after finising afternoon classes-magic

Author: Milagros Lugo-Amador, Assistant Director

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Intensive English Students Have an Intensive Texan Experience


Intensive English Students got a real taste of Texas this week, as they learned to line-dance, enjoyed the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, and experienced the concert of a lifetime with rock legend, Carlos Santana.

HLSR’s fantastic volunteers came to campus to get us in the mood for the Rodeo. They taught us how to kick up our heels like Texans have for more than a century, leading us through three traditional variations of the line dance as well as a circle line dance. These dances evolved from folk dances and are still popular in dance halls around the United States, but especially in the Friendship State–Texas! Chili with corn chips is a classic Texas treat that teachers and staff served during the event.

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That evening, students put on their cowboy hats and bandanas to experience the Houston Rodeo! The largest event of its kind, the Houston Rodeo has something for everyone–students got to pet farm animals, learn about agriculture in Texas and the U.S., eat carnival food, and see traditional rodeo competitions. We all loved seeing the rodeo clown distract the bulls!

After the rodeo competitions, Carlos Santana played his classic hits with a stellar band. We really ended the night on a high note!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator

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Alumni Spotlight: Diorgenes Borges

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When his company in Brazil relocated Diorgenes to Houston, it was only for a short period. Agecom Produtos de Petroleo, Ltda., a distributor of chemical and petrochemical products, wanted Diorgenes to work part time in their Houston subsidiary–Agecom America, Inc.–and use the rest of his workday to study English. A friend recommended the Rice University ESL Program. He was impressed by both the Intensive English Program’s solid curriculum and Rice University’s beautiful campus. His main goal as an ESL student was to improve his English so that he could move his career forward. “Improving my communication skills gave me more confidence to participate in important meetings and share my ideas and thoughts with coworkers and business partners.” Taking English classes and putting what he learned into practice paid off. After just a few months, the company decided to give him a permanent position in their Houston office. That was seven years ago, and he still lives and works in Houston today.


Diorgenes, fifth from the left, with some of his classmates on his last day in the program

Diorgenes says that the teachers were one of the aspects he liked the most about our program. They understood the difference between teaching English to native and non-native speakers. He also enjoyed the multiple opportunities the program offered for students to interact with their classmates outside of class, mainly through a robust social activities agenda. These chances to mingle allowed him and his classmates to apply what they were learning in real situations. It also provided for the development of strong friendships. “I keep in touch with a lot of them. Some went to college in the USA and now they have jobs and are moving forward in their field.” As far as Houston, he loved its diversity and the opportunity to meet people from different countries who have faced similar struggles and situations. “My favorite thing about Houston is the fact that it is a multicultural city, and it makes everyone feel at home.”

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Diorgenes, second from left, strolling around the Rice University campus with his friends

Spending time with people from different cultures in the program also prepared him for a new role as the executive of a large global corporation, making business with international companies and working with people from all over the world. Three years ago, MAN Diesel & Turbo North America Inc., a global German oil and gas corporation here in Houston, hired Diorgenes. After only one year, he was promoted to head of the Purchasing Department of that corporation. A little over a year later, he got yet another promotion. This time he became the head of Procurement, a position in which he supervises both the Logistics and Purchasing Departments.

One other thing that Diorgenes achieved by polishing his English, which in turn helped him advance his career, was the opportunity to enroll in professional studies in supply chain management at the University of Houston. This 40-hour program allowed him to have meaningful discussions and exchange ideas about best practices in the field of global supply chain management. Thinking about his own experience, one recommendation he would give you if you were considering studying English in the USA, is that you get exposed to as many experiences as possible, in order to learn not just the language, but the culture as well. He would also suggest you be open to the unknown and unplanned things that will surely come your way, and use those for your own enrichment.

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Author: Milagros Lugo-Amador, Assistant Director


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We Love Our ESL Students and Teachers!

In the United States, people celebrate Valentine’s Day by exchanging Valentine’s cards, candy or flowers with friends, family and their significant other, and telling their loved ones how much they appreciate them. We expressed our love for ESL students and teachers by celebrating them with a Valentine’s Day party! Love was all around yesterday, as were red hearts and chocolates, symbols traditionally associated with the holiday. After eating pizza and heart-shaped lollipops, we rocked out to a playlist of international love songs submitted by students and teachers. One lucky student even won a Valentine’s Day prize – an adorable teddy bear holding a box of chocolates!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator

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Red Nation Rocks!


This week students watched the Houston Rockets take on New Orleans Pelicans. It was an exciting game that was tense right up until the last point was won – the Pelicans scored a 12 point lead within the last two minutes! Students had fun learning “the wave” from our teachers and we even got our section-mates to join in. The Rockets may have lost by a few points, but our ESL students were the real winners.

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator


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ESL Students Had a Merry and Bright Visit to the Houston Zoo Lights


The winter holidays are finally here and students in the Intensive English Program got to celebrate the season with a bang! To start, we had dinner and tried a variety of Christmas cookies before having a festive gift exchange at our annual Holiday Party.

Afterwards, students took a trip to the Houston Zoo to see the amazing Zoo Lights. Each year the Houston Zoo is transformed with millions of lights – over fifteen miles of LED lighting are used to illuminate the towering oak trees, winding pathways, and exhibits! Students kept warm with hot chocolate and enjoyed carousel rides and a truly enchanting display of light and sound. While the animals were asleep for the night, our students did encounter many whimsical animals made out of string lights.

As our office closes for the winter break, we hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator


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Gravy, Games and Gratitude at the Rice ESL Thanksgiving Luncheon

IMG_3174Happy Fall, Y’all!

On a chilly November week, our intensive English students gathered together to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season and contemplate what they’re thankful for in life. Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in the United States by gathering with your family and friends to eat, remember good things that have happened during the year, and perhaps watch some football or a parade.

We had a cozy Thanksgiving luncheon in the Grand Hall of the Rice University Student Center, celebrating new friends, new experiences, and hanging leaves on the Thankful Tree to remember what we’re grateful for this year. One of our teachers led students in a game of Turkey Day Trivia –with lucky winners receiving Rice-themed prizes– and students had lots of fun with our Thanksgiving photo booth.

Students gobbled down a delicious variety of traditional American Thanksgiving foods: roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread and cranberry sauce. To end on a sweet note, students enjoyed pumpkin and apple pies along with a Texas favorite – pecan pie. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator



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ESL Students Celebrate International Education Week with Food and Dancing

This week is International Education Week, a time to highlight the benefits of international education and exchangeWith students from five continents and 25 different countries this session, the Rice Intensive English Program has a lot to celebrate – and celebrate we did! Our students gathered to enjoy foods representing their home countries. We tried a variety of dishes, including Mediterranean favorites falafel and hummus, sopes from Mexico, dumplings from China and Taiwan, tequeños from Venezuela, and chocolates from Russia.

After that, students worked off the meal with a dance competition! The playlist was an eclectic mix of songs requested by students through social media. Our Turkish students taught everyone how to tap their toes to classics like Kasap Havası. We also bounced to some reggaeton by J Balvin and let loose with Gangnam Style, the K-Pop superhit by Psy. No matter what the beat, we love the enthusiasm our international students bring to our program.

Happy International Education Week!


Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator


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Say “Boo” to Halloween!


ESL students donned their most “spooktacular” costumes this week for our annual Halloween Pizza Party & Costume Contest. From adorable angels and butterflies to downright frightening monsters, Intensive English students put on a show! But there were no tricks, only treats as students and teachers enjoyed pizza, making their own treat bags of Halloween candy, and rocking to the Monster Mash.

Where’s Waldo? We found two of them! The duo won first prize in our costume contest, followed closely by the scariest bunny we’ve ever seen. There were plenty of chic witches in attendance, as well as several ghosts and even a Mario. What a great way to celebrate before students prepare for their finals!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator


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You are welcome here!

The Rice University English as a Second Language Program is taking part in the #YouAreWelcomeHere movement. This national social media campaign is spreading a friendly welcome message from U.S. higher education to international students around the world. We have welcomed students from more than 115 countries into our ESL programs. We value each and every one of them, as well as the unique views they bring with them.

Our program is located in Houston, one of the most diverse cities in the U.S.  The energy and cultural diversity of the Houston community, including our students, contribute to making our city a rich, vibrant and exciting place to be.


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