ESL class shares multicultural Thanksgiving meal together
On Nov. 19, more than a dozen adult students gathered at Northampton Area High School’s library to celebrate their last English as a Second Language class with a multicultural Thanksgiving.
The Thanksgiving feast had a carved turkey, corn, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie provided by the district. Additional items provided by the students included falafel (deep-fried ball doughnut), tabbouleh salad, hummus, rice and beans, pastelillos (small turnovers), cabbage salad mixed with tomatoes, boiled yucca and Vigoron (pork rinds).
“The adult English class was offered to the community for the first time last year,” said Christine Nemeh, a Northampton Area School District English-learner teacher. “The class has helped parents with students in the district who are in ESL classes.”
The class attendance was composed of 15 students whose countries of origins were from Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East. After last year’s class, students asked for longer and more frequent classes.
“This year, the adult English class was offered twice a week from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for six weeks,” Nemeh said. “The adults received a certificate at the completion of the program.”
In addition to Nemeh leading the ESL classes, three other ESL teachers were involved: Allison Knerr, special education teacher at Northampton Borough Elementary; Stephanie Szoke, English-learner teacher at Northampton Borough Elementary; and Paula Ulrich, ESL teacher at NAHS. In attendance at the multicultural Thanksgiving ceremony was Northampton Area Middle School Assistant Principal Elizabeth Grammes.
Knerr opened the ceremony by noting an aspect of Thanksgiving is about being thankful. On that note, students immediately started describing what they were thankful for, in English.
“We learned important things we can use every day,” Abeer Azar said. “Thank you for teaching us. I feel comfortable speaking.”
Julian Sanchez, who began living in Pennsylvania six months ago, said, “I am thankful for learning English to help me go shopping.”
Rima Ghaith said, “I am thankful to learn English to help me search for a job.”
“Thank for your time and patience with us,” Jacqueline Caicedo said with a smile.
The ESL class taught adult students how to fill out a job application, how to seek medical assistance and day-to-day conversational English to communicate.
All agreed celebrating Thanksgiving together by sharing their native foods helped the participants feel welcome and gave them much to be thankful for.