Students Discover International Culture
Nov 01, 2010
Leave it to teens to ask the tough questions.
When Fargo, N.D., middle school students recently interviewed Concordia international students, their questions ranged from, “Do you like lefse?” to “Did you have culture shock?”
This annual tradition introduces the seventh- and eighth-grade world language students to real people from other cultures, a perfect tie-in to their language instruction.
“It’s a great opportunity for our students and theirs,” says their teacher James Urlacher, who teaches English, Spanish and world languages at Fargo's Discovery Middle School.
Dr. James Coomber couldn't agree more. He and Dr. Amy Watkin both teach Concordia's American English Language and Culture class for international students.
“For a few hours our students become almost teachers' assistants in those classrooms,” says Coomber. “That gives them great satisfaction as well as increased confidence with the English language.”
The Discovery students were surprised it would take 21 hours for Taswar Rahman ’14, Bangladesh, to get home and that Otto Bergendoff ’14, Norway, loves Mexican food (his favorite “American” food) and only eats lefse at Christmas. Classmates laughed as they struggled to pronounce a multitude of global words.
For the Concordia students, it was their first visit to a U.S. public school. They enjoyed bonding with the adolescents over football, hockey and food. Cruz Conejo ’14, Costa Rica, a Spanish native assistant, explained the passion of soccer in his country.
“It’s a religion,” he says.
The Concordia students were surprised at how interested the students were in their lives and hoped that meeting them would encourage them.
“Hopefully it keeps them studying other languages,” says David Velich ’14, Czech Republic.