ST. PAUL, Minn. -- International students studying at the University of Minnesota celebrated their first Fourth of July.
About 75 international students, representing 20 different countries, are studying English this summer through the U of M College of Continuing Education's Minnesota English Language Program (MELP).
"People learn language best when they're interacting and using the language for real communication," said Mike Anderson, director of English Language Programs. "So coming to the parade and picnic is a perfect opportunity for students to both learn about American culture but also practice their English speaking here with Americans here at the parade."
About 40 of the students celebrated Independence Day together. They started the day by watching the 4th in the Park parade in St. Paul.
"It's so amazing. I really enjoy it," said Mayadhin Al Abri from Oman, who will be studying chemical engineering at the U of M in the fall.
According to Anderson, many of the students involved in the program are sharpening their English language skills before applying to undergraduate or graduate programs in the United States. Students spend either a semester or year improving their English.
"I want to be a doctor," said Ashjan Almaghlouth from Saudi Arabia. Almaghlouth is improving her English before applying for medical school.
"We love having a diverse group of international students at the University of Minnesota. There's a long history of international students studying at the University of Minnesota," Anderson said.
"This is my first time to go to the United States to study and actually this is my dream coming here, you know," said Zhang Fang from China.
After the parade, the students enjoyed recreational activities and a picnic at Langford Park.
Throughout the summer, the students will get involved in several other Twin Cities events including visiting retirement communities, volunteering at Minnehaha Falls and visiting the Guthrie Theater and Como Zoo.
© 2017 KARE-TV