In my last post, I mused about how WAL could possibly become authorized to accept international students. We had to have graduates in order to be considered a school by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, but we couldn’t have students unless we were an approved school! A catch-22!
I was too young to let a mere contradiction disturb me. I had read that Nordstrom was training a group of Russian immigrants to be shoe salesmen (this was 1979). So around Christmas of 1979 I was able to convince Nordstrom (www.nordstrom.com) that I would give the shoe salesmen free English lessons; the price seemed right to Nordstrom. We were all successful: the salesmen learned English, Nordstrom made more sales because their salesmen had a fair command of the language and WAL had successful graduates. We earned Immigration approval to have international students the following March. In April we received our first students.
Once I reconciled myself to the fact that the Iranian halcyon days were over, I concentrated on Japan, Venezuela and the Middle East. We were fortunate to receive students from all of those geographical areas and the school was off to a grand start by mid April 1980.
While this story is not one of how the leopard got its spots, it is the story of how WAL became authorized to have international students. Of course, our school has been examined and reauthorized several times since that very challenging first time.
Little did I realize that the easiest part of beginning a school was beginning a school! Stay tuned.
– Dr. Paul Schneider, Director of Teacher Education Programs, WAL