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Archive for November, 2011

This month I would like to highlight two special students: Torcuato Rivera and Gladys Lopez. Torcuato and Gladys moved to Virginia from Lima, Peru seven years ago.  The adorable couple has been married for an impressive 43 years. These students are very determined, they commute all the way from Roundhill, Virginia to learn English twice a week in Leesburg. Every class, the two come with their homework completed in beautiful cursive handwriting. Each activity is performed with great precision and accuracy. Typically, Torcuato asks difficult grammatical questions that would suit an advanced English class. It is no surprise that these two are quite intelligent students; in Peru, Gladys was a professor of language and literature  at Colegio Naccional Jesus Redentor, and Torcuato performed research in Oceanography and taught science technology at the Institute of the Sea, Peru. They have two children and four grandchildren, and they live with their family in Loudoun County.

As a teacher, I greatly appreciate their enthusiasm to learn and their critical thinking. I also appreciate the fact that they often come early to class and help me set up chairs and tables. Torcuato and Gladys take English class very seriously and they have learned a great amount of vocabulary and grammar in just one session. One of the biggest differences I have noticed in the last 8 weeks is their confidence gained in speaking English. I always look forward to seeing Torcuato and Gladys in class with their beaming, smiling faces and their eager attitude to learn.

-Janna Starr

AmeriCorps Member, Adult Literacy Program

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Last week, we had an Ethnic Food Dinner with my adult ELL class (English Language Learners). My students are all Spanish-speakers and represent 6 different countries in Central and South America. Everyone brought generous amounts of food from their country. Before diving in to the delicious meal, we each shared how the dish was prepared and how it should be eaten. In the mix we had El Salvadorian papusas (fried dough with cheese, beans, and pork) and fried-chicken tacos served with a tangy tomato sauce. If you’ve never had papusas, you need to try them.On Tuesday, we had an Ethnic Food Dinner with my adult ELL class (English Language Learners). My students are all Spanish-speakers and represent 6 different countries in Central and South America. Everyone brought generous amounts of food from their country. Before diving in to the delicious meal, we each shared how the dish was prepared and how it should be eaten. In the mix we had El Salvadorian papusas (fried dough with cheese, beans, and pork) and fried-chicken tacos served with a tangy tomato sauce. If you’ve never had papusas, you need to try them.

Traditional Papusas, yum!

A woman from Guatemala brought tasty chicken sandwiches topped with her special dressing recipe. From the Dominican Republic, we had a plantain dish with onions, corn, and spices. This is called “Mangu”. For the sweet tooth hankerings, there was arroz con leche (sweet rice)- spiced with a touch of cinnamon and plump raisins. To represent my ethnicity, I brought Swedish Kropsua, a special Scandinavian oven pancake. For drinks we enjoyed Purple Corn juice from Peru, made exactly from that- purple corn!

The party was a great way to relax and enjoy the work from the semester thus far. Each of us took joy in sharing a part of our culture with one another. I was touched by my students; everyone contributed to the dinner and we shared cultural conversation and listened to music. There is something special about breaking bread and sharing a meal together. Food is an essential part of life, and when it is shared, deeper bonds are created between us.

Of course, after dinner we continued with a class lesson. Students stayed surprisingly on task, even with full bellies ready for a nap. I am thankful for my experience thus far teaching English classes and am continually realizing how incredible my students are. I am fortunate to be a (small) part of their lives and to be a facilitator of learning.

 

(Written by LLC AmeriCorps Member Janna Starr, taken from her blog “A Crack in the Window”- http://jannastarr16.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/sharing-food-sharing-life/ )

 

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