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ESL classmates establish inter-European exchanges

(l ?r)Ball State alumna Eugenia Cannada and fellow 1979 MA graduate Laurie Poseidon celebrate their successful student exchange programs during a recent reunion near Cefalu, Sicily.

Professor Janet Ross must have had a second sense in 1978 when telling others to “beware” of a lively pair of her ESL graduate students, Laurie Poseidon and Eugenia Cannada. Since then, their quarter-century friendship begun in Muncie has blossomed into extensive inter-European high school student exchanges.

Fulbright scholar Eugenia, now a teacher and director of international activities at Liceo Linguistico Provincale in Palermo, Sicily, recalls immediately feeling at ease with fellow graduate student Laurie, an American then recently married to Greek-born Christos Poseidon.  “We did pretty well at (Ball State) and shed lots of tears when we parted (in 1979).” After several years in the US, the Poseidons moved to Greece where Laurie joined the faculty of Athens College.

In the early 1990s when European academic exchanges began booming, the pair proposed their schools establish student exchanges. With three exchanges now completed, approximately 150 Athens students have known the Italian culture and have become friends with 150 Palermo students. Eugenia says it best: “That is the ultimate goal of teaching a foreign language. I think we hit the target!”

As a tribute to their beloved ESL teacher, Eugenia and Laurie sent an autographed picture from a recent reunion to the Office of International Advancement for forwarding to Dr. Ross. With the picture was a note from Laurie as follows: “the basics you gave us really have really helped us over the years; we think of you often with great affection.”

 Who could imagine a better outcome to a classroom friendship that first appeared to be “dangerous.” Dr. Ross doubtless couldn’t be prouder!