MOUNT ALLISON SEMESTER STUDIES IN ENGLISH (MASSIE)
The MASSIE Program gives groups of students from partner universities the opportunity to live and study in an English environment for one semester or less. This is a group study program and partner universities send cohorts of students to Mount Allison University for an immersive language and culture program.
Students live in residence, are matched with Mount Allison conversation partners, and are fully integrated into all aspects of campus life.
They follow a specialized English program which is uniquely-tailored to meet the needs and requirements of their home universities.
Field trips and activities serve to introduce students to the history, culture and geography of Atlantic Canada.
A volunteer component provides participants and community members with opportunities for hands-on learning and cross-cultural connections.
At the end of each MASSIE program, the students return to their home university where they resume their studies. While students do not receive an academic credit for this program, a transcript with final grades is produced and sent to their home universities. Students take a TOEFL or TOIEC test at the end of the program and results are shared with their home universities.
The primary aim of the MASSIE program is to provide students with an opportunity to improve their proficiency in academic and conversational English through classroom work, field trips, volunteer service, and participation in campus and community life.
MASSIE offers two 14-week programs in the summer and fall months and a 6-week program in the winter months.
The summer program runs from early June to mid-August while the fall program runs from late-August to mid-December.
The winter program runs from early February to mid-March.
Students are typically second or third-year students from Mount Allison’s partner universities in Japan. Students apply through their home university and must meet certain minimum English proficiency requirements to be approved for study at Mount Allison.
Groups vary in size from 20-40 students per program.
Students attend specialized, closed language classes which run parallel to regular Mount Allison classes. MASSIE teachers have extensive experience with the Program and possess professional backgrounds in ESL/EAL education.
The following five courses form the core MASSIE curriculum:
- Oral Language Skills (OLS)
- Critical Thinking in English (CTIE)
Students have the option of signing up for additional special-offer courses taught by Mount Allison faculty which are specifically and exclusively designed for MASSIE.
Accommodation and meals
MASSIE students live on-campus in Mount Allison residences.
Summer program participants are assigned single rooms and live together in the same residence under the supervision of Mount Allison Residence Assistants (student staff).
Fall and winter program participants share double rooms and live alongside Mount Allison students in 4-5 different residences.
Through the Mount Allison Unlimited Meal Plan, students have full access to all meals served at Jennings Dining Hall.
One of the unique aspects of the program is the opportunity it provides students to interact with members of the Sackville community. To this end, two weeks are set aside at the end of each program for students to volunteer in schools, with community groups and in job-shadowing roles with local businesses.
Students benefit from the chance to practice their English in an authentic setting while experiencing Canadian life and culture in a first-hand way. The community benefits through the opportunities for friendship and cross-cultural education that come from these interactions.
Campus and community volunteers
Another important aspect of the program is the extent to which Mount Allison students and local residents have come to be involved as volunteers.
Each MASSIE student is partnered with a Mount Allison student who serves as an English conversation partner.
In previous years, MASSIE students were likewise paired with a Mount Allison roommate. All told, more than 1,500 Mount Allison students have developed a new knowledge of a different culture and, more importantly, come away with new friends. These friendships and experiences have often led Mount Allison students to visit or seek employment in Japan.
On the community side of things, area families have long served as local hosts to summer MASSIE students. Pairs of students are matched with area families who in turn agree to include them in family events over the course of the summer.
The cross-cultural benefit of this kind of meaningful interaction cannot be overstated. Students feel welcomed as part of the family and gain rare insights into local life and customs; families are rewarded with new friendships and new cultural perspectives which extend far beyond the Tantramar region.
What is the MASSIE Program?
MASSIE gives visiting students from Mount Allison's partner universities the opportunity to live and study in an English environment for one semester or less. Through classroom work, field trips, on-campus and community involvement, the program is designed to improve students' academic and conversational English in a small-scale, supportive and personalized environment.
What does MASSIE stand for?
Mount Allison Semester Studies In English.
Who are the MASSIE students?
MASSIE students are typically 2nd-year students from Kwansei Gakuin University (Osaka, Japan) and Toyo-Eiwa University (Yokohama, Japan). The Program may expand to include students from other partner universities in Japan and beyond.
Is the program open to other students?
MASSIE currently operates on a closed basis and only accepts students from its partner universities. Interested students should inquire through their home university or contact the Program Coordinator directly for more information.
When did MASSIE begin?
MASSIE began with 50 students from KGU during the Fall 2000 Term.
How many MASSIE students have come to Mount Allison?
MASSIE typically receives 75-90 students per year. Since the program's first session in September 2000, over 1000 MASSIE students have come to Mount Allison.
How many MASSIE sessions are there each year?
There are two semester-long sessions, one in the spring and summer months (May-August) and one in the fall (September-December). There is also an abbreviated 6-week winter session (February-March).
Do MASSIE students speak English?
Yes. MASSIE students from Japanese universities have typically taken 7 years of classroom English before coming to Mount Allison. The program exists to give them an opportunity to improve their confidence and proficiency in conversational English.
Do MASSIE students take regular Mount Allison classes?
No. MASSIE students attend specialized, closed classes which run parallel to regular Mount Allison classes.
Where do MASSIE students live?
MASSIE students live in residence at Mount Allison. During the spring/summer session, they are assigned single rooms in the same residence where they live alongside Mount Allison residence staff. Fall and winter MASSIE students are assigned roommates and live in double rooms throughout campus.
Who are the MASSIE English Conversation Partners?
MASSIE conversation partners are Mount Allison student volunteers who commit to spending at least one hour per week in English conversation with their assigned MASSIE partner. Conversation partners meet weekly for the duration of the program (14-15 weeks). The Conversation Partner aspect of the program is another way in which MASSIE students are given the opportunity to make new friends, improve their English, and learn more about Canadian culture. In total, nearly 1000 Mt.A students have volunteered as conversation partners since the program’s beginning.
Do MASSIE students volunteer in the community?
Yes. During the last 2 weeks of their stay in Canada, the MASSIE students participate in what is called, “Community Outreach.” Community Outreach is an activity that is a required function of every MASSIE Program. It provides opportunities for all students to become more involved in community daily life but, more importantly, it provides an excellent chance for everybody to put their English skills to use. Activities include job shadowing, working with elementary, middle school and high school students in their classrooms, volunteering with local businesses and local community groups and, providing Japanese cooking lessons to local residents.
What is the Japanese Cooking Exchange?
At the conclusion of every MASSIE session, the students volunteer their time and talent in the kitchens of the community. Students visit the homes of local families and share in the preparation of a traditional Japanese meal. The event is designed to provide for a friendly exchange of food and conversation between MASSIE students and residents of Sackville (and environs). For MASSIE students, it’s an opportunity to make some personal connections in the community and to learn more about local life and traditions. For members of the community, it is an opportunity to learn more about Japan and Japanese cooking.
What is the “At Home in the Community” Family and Student-Pairing Project?
During the summer, the MASSIE Program matches pairs of students with local families. The families take on an adoptive role with one pair of students and invite them to their homes at least once a month from May to August. The idea of the Family & Student-Pairing Project began as an initiative to get the students out of the residence and into the community so that their Canadian cultural experience would be a more personal one. As the summer students don’t have roommates, this project has been a successful way for the students and community members to meet and interact.
How many program co-ordinators have there been since the program’s beginning in 2000?
- Anne Semple (2000-2003)
- Adam Christie (2003-2010)
- Robin Walker (2010-present)
History of the MASSIE program
The MASSIE Program dates back to 2000 when Mount Allison received the first group of students from Kwansei Gakuin University (Nishinomiya, Japan).
In the years since, more than 1,000 students from KGU and other partner universities in Japan have come to Sackville for short-term and semester-long English studies. The result has been profound on the ties that have developed between Mount Allison, Sackville and Japan.
MASSIE began as the Mount Allison Sophomore Semester in English Program. It was specifically designed to receive groups of second-year students from KGU for a semester-long English experience during the summer and fall months. As the program grew to incorporate students from other universities at different times of the year, the name changed to the Mount Allison Semester Studies in English Program.
In the early years of the program, KGU sent two groups of students per year, one in the summer (May-August) and one in the fall (September–December). In both cases, students returned to Japan at the end of the program to resume their studies at KGU.
In 2007, the program expanded to include a “MASSIE Plus” option for a limited number of summer students. Under the terms of the “MASSIE Plus” Program, qualified students could remain in Sackville beyond the end of the summer program to register as one-semester exchange students in the fall. These students enrolled in Mount Allison classes and earned Mount Allison credit which transferred back to their home university.
In 2008, Mount Allison entered into an agreement with Toyo-Eiwa University (Yokohama, Japan) to develop a short-term winter program. The first group of TEU students came in February 2009 and successive groups of students have been coming ever since.
In 2012, Mount Allison added a separate 6-week winter program for KGU students.
The TEU and KGU winter programs merged in 2014 as part of a successful venture between the two universities. This opened the door to future combined programs during the summer and fall months.
In February 2010 representatives from Mount Allison and KGU came together at KGU’s Uegahara Campus to formally mark the 10th anniversary of the MASSIE Program.
Over 200 former MASSIE and Mount Allison students filled the KG Reception Hall for an evening of speeches, photographs, fine food and happy reunions. Later the same year, Mount Allison hosted 10th anniversary celebrations of its own. KGU representatives and former MASSIE students returned to Sackville for a weekend of reunion activities.
MASSIE has benefited from stable leadership and strong support over the years of its existence.
In the early years, Ms. Anne Semple (2000-2003) served as Coordinator and played a key role in conceptualizing the program and developing its initial framework.
Ms. Semple was succeeded by Mr. Adam Christie who served as Coordinator from 2003-2010. The current Coordinator is Ms. Robin Walker (2010-present).
The long-term success of the MASSIE Program is a testament to the quality of the experience that Mount Allison and Sackville provide, the hard work of the program’s staff and volunteers, and the enduring support shown by KGU and Mount Allison.