After many years of rolling, CEI El Jarama can say that it is now definitely going international. Centro Educativo Internacional El Jarama S.L. was the name given 22 years ago by its founders. The “El Jarama” bit was added pretty straight forward given that the Jarama River surrounds the company’s main premises and provides the unique scenery and characteristics to such centre.
“Educativo” since we do nothing but educate and teach values and concepts to everybody that visits us, mainly children.
And the “International” bit, since originally envisioned to become a reference in Spain on the grounds of foreign language Summer courses, it is recently when the company has given a great and deep jump into its internationalization.
So, going international
On the one side, the learning of languages under our umbrella (we do not allow to say that we teach languages, but rather that our students learn them – which leads to high implications when defining our didactic methodologies) is becoming more and more important. As we said before, 22 years ago we started to carry out Summer immersion camps in English and some test with other languages were done too. Something completely innovative at the time. Today, there are over 600 children and teens that participate every Summer in some of our language programmes, English and/or Spanish Summer courses.
Lately, CEI El Jarama has introduced immersion programmes for local schools and for foreign schools either in English and/or Spanish. Over 600 primary and secondary school students have benefited from such programmes in the last school year. On the other hand, the amount of foreign students we welcome has substantially increased in the recent past. The number of individual reservations that come from all over the world for our Summer programmes is permanently increasing.
But also the numerous groups of Chinese and Egyptians, with around 30 students each, coloured our last Summer programmes. In total, a 15% of the total 1.200 Summer reservations corresponded to non Spanish students. A unique Summer experience for the foreign kids, for the local ones, and for all our staff members!!!
But couldn’t one say that this exchange and study abroad experiences are not an overall increasing trend? Indeed they are a growing trend! Recently, we reported about this significant increase of study travels on the Study Travel Magazine article or even in our previous post on this blog. But, does this mean that it is easy to become a successful company in delivering quality programmes to international groups? I do not agree with that.
Going international and company culture
Let’s just imagine we are dealing with highly sensitive “material”, i.e. 6 – 17 year olds that are sent to us from their home countries, to whom we have to provide with all sorts of personal and emotional care during their 15 to 30 day stays. And also, let’s pretend that every feedback from the teachers and/or responsible accompanying adults states that CEI El Jarama manages to create a great atmosphere at the same time that looks after every single detail and every single need of each child, so that the kids can adapt, integrate, enjoy, and, therefore, improve their language skills.
If we now think that this is actually not a fantasy in our minds rather than a fact in CEI El Jarama, the question is how we manage to get to that point. It takes a lot of time to implement, a lot of personal efforts and sacrifices from all the personnel and above all, a company culture committed and devoted to the importance of languages, firstly, and to internationalism, secondly.
And here comes the third and last reflection of today´s article, the staff panel makes the “internacional” dream possible. But how? Integrating such committed culture towards internationalism in their day to day basis: They have been taking voluntary English classes provided by the company for the last 4 years. All members of staff have had training on cross-cultural education. The company and all the staff have been building ties with foreign communities in Thailand for 6 years now. Amongst an important number of staff members, English, and even French, is the most commonly spoken language, 10 different nationalities working together, etc.
CEI El Jarama strongly believes on the empowerment of its stakeholders, either staff members, visiting children and/or their families, and strives for giving them valuable tools to enhance all possible sides of their personal development. Besides this, we define our service essence as caring for every detail and specific need of each of our students. These two attitudes, we believe, help us to make our dreams on internationalization real, or any other dream we may stand for.
Post written by Víctor Manuel Rodríguez Martínez (Head of CEI El Jarama)