Looking Back on 2020
Our successes despite the pandemic
We can all agree that 2020 was a difficult year. People all over the world have struggled through the pandemic, travel was stopped, and we were even forbidden from living our normal, everyday lives, including going to school. Although these measures have been hard for all of us, they were necessary to keep us safe. But despite all of the obstacles, Zoni has managed to achieve some wonderful milestones and successes thanks to the dedicated staff, teachers and the wonderful students! So, let's end the year positively as we look back on the good parts of 2020.
The new year started off with a lot of fun and the first ever Zoni ski trip held on 31 January. Students from the New York and New Jersey campuses spent the day skiing, snowboarding, tubing and getting to know each other on Shawnee Mountain, Pennsylvania - only a couple of hours away from Zoni’s metropolitan area campuses.
Luckily, the conditions were lovely, and the mountain was covered in about 28 inches of snow! Students were able to take ski and snowboard lessons (in English) and have fun riding giant tubes down the Pocono Plunge! Of course, students who could already ski were able to rent equipment and enjoy the slopes. Students reported that the view from the chairlift was amazing!
During the pandemic, we didn’t want our students to face unnecessary hardships or to go without food. We developed a program called the “Zoni Food Pantry”. Although the packages were largely sponsored, Zoni students, teachers and staff were also invited to donate food items, as well as volunteer to give out the packages on distribution days. We are very proud of our Zoni community and through this program we provided food to 1235 students and families.
The Food Pantry took place at 7 Zoni campuses (Manhattan, Jackson Heights, West New York (NJ), Passaic, Newark, Brooklyn and Flushing.
SEVP certification to Passaic and Brooklyn
Even though Zoni campuses were closed for a period due to Covid-19 regulations, two of our campuses, Brooklyn and Passaic became SEVP certified!
To become SEVP certified, schools must pass a comprehensive application process that includes the school being visited and checked by a SEVP representative.
Having a SEVP certificate means a school is allowed to issue Forms I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," to international students. These students then use the Form I-20 to apply for their F-1 visa to study as a full-time student in the United States.
This is very exciting because until now these campuses were only allowed to enroll domestic students. Now, after SEVP certification, international students are able to enroll to study in Brooklyn or Passaic!!!
700+ active virtual students
In 2019 Zoni launched a Virtual Presence Program (VPP) offering English classes at our virtualschool, Zoni Institute. The difference between an online class and a virtual class is that virtualclass gives you a real, live and interactive classroom experience including a real teacher and classmates.
Since starting the VPP thousands of students around the world have enrolled in our virtual school. Even during the pandemic, we achieved over 700 students active on our platform (not including the in-person students that were transferred temporarily during Covid-19 restrictions). Zoni VPP students get amazing results! But it’s not just about learning English. Our platform lets students “meet” their international classmates and learn about different cultures and experiences from the comfort of their own homes and countries.
Cambridge exams resume on campus
For students wanting to study at colleges or universities in the United States or other English-speaking countries, passing the Cambridge English Exam is extremely important. Zoni language Centers is approved to administer this exam at its Manhattan, Miami Beach and Brooklyn campuses.
However, Covid restrictions made it impossible to hold these exams on campus for most of this year. Therefore, we were very excited to welcome students on November 04 to their Cambridge examinations – socially distanced and wearing masks. Of course, other hygiene precautions were also in place, such as having sanitised desks and equipment.
The exams went extremely well, and we look forward to the next round of Cambridge exams in the new year.
Message from Mr Nieto – President, Zoni Language Centers
Zoni President and founder, Mr. Zoilo C Nieto leads by example. You will most often find him on campus – wearing a mask and making sure that things are taken care of. In the face of such a tough year, he has a message of hope as he looks forward to 2021.
“Despite all the things 2020 has brought us, we are all still here. This year there has been a lot of talk about Covid-19 and the stress and difficulties it caused. But now it is time to focus on the future. We at Zoni are looking forward to a wonderful 2021 and I am sure it will be a prosperous year for so many reasons.
2021 will be a time to leave Covid-19 behind us. I am hopeful that soon things will start going back to normal. We know how difficult the Covid-19 situation is. But at Zoni we also see the situation as an opportunity to be able to move forward in new and exciting ways.
We have been working hard at Zoni for the last 30 years. During this time, we have been through a lot, but never a pandemic and I am very proud of how we have handled such a big challenge.
I truly believe that we are almost at the end of this challenging time. And because of this, I ask you to keep on going - in 2 – 3 months this will all be history. By supporting and caring for each other and by keeping positive and focussed we will make it through this period. And, we will be stronger than ever before.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone at Zoni happy holidays and a very happy, healthy and wonderful 2021.”