Emerson hires new Associate Director of English Language Learning

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Amy Rinaldo, the college’s new Associate Director of English Language Learning. (Photo courtesy of Amy Rinaldo)

By Gabriel Borges, Staff Writer

In her new role with the Office of International Student Affairs, Amy Rinaldo will work with international students to help them celebrate their multilingual community, develop English skills, and proffer academic and professional growth.

Rinaldo took the position of associate director of English language learning on Jan. 10, seven months after the departure of her predecessor Jeremy Heflin. Rinaldo, who served as the associate director of English language programs at Brandeis University for seven years, will serve as the primary adviser for English language support for international students.

“I’m looking at some of the different courses we offer and how we might want to enhance those a little bit for next fall. I’m looking at providing some other programming for international students to facilitate some of their language and social development.” 

“It’s kind of a little bit of everything,” she said. “Trying to be really comprehensive and holistic in the ways that we can support students.”

Rinaldo emerged as a great fit during the hiring process due to her extensive background in education and cross-cultural experience abroad, according to Director of International Student Affairs Andrea Popa.

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“We were looking specifically not just for someone with an academic background, but someone able to demonstrate a connection to other cultures,” Popa said.

Rinaldo graduated from University of California, San Diego, in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in art history, before moving to Suzhou, China to teach English at an elementary school. During her year-long stay, she said she experienced “culture shock”—but was kept there by her love of teaching.

“Whenever I walked into my classroom, I couldn’t be in a bad mood,” Rinaldo said. “I would be having a stressful day—maybe some ‘culture bump’ interaction on the way to work—and then get in my classroom. Even if I was nervous, or feeling down or homesick, the minute I was with students, it all disappeared.”

While her professional career took a different turn than expected—going from an interest in art history to linguistics and language acquisition—Rinaldo remains passionate about liberal arts pedagogy.

“I’ve always been really interested in the arts,” she said. “So being able to work in an environment with students who are in those majors in communication, I found I was really interested in working with that student population.”

Rinaldo said she is especially interested in how international students fit into Emerson’s agenda of pushing diversity, equity, and inclusion, pointing to the college’s efforts to diversify its curriculum.

“I find that a lot of schools welcome international students, but there’s kind of an unspoken onus on international students to assimilate,” she said. “If we’re thinking about true globalization, true internationalization, it should come from both sides.”