In one Adult ESL class at International House, students from eleven different countries and four different continents are learning together. Learning English is not the only goal of the classes, however. The lessons are designed to build understanding across culture. While practicing their new language, students also discover connections in their own histories with the rest of their classmates, and with Charlotte.
On Thursday, September 25, 2013, students in the daytime Adult ESL class visited the Levine Museum of the New South. Accompanied by Director of Education Gail Johnson, the class made the first of what will ultimately be five visits to the museum’s award-winning exhibit about Charlotte’s history, “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers.”
Outside of the museum, the class’s lesson plan corresponds with the experiences they will be having at the exhibit. In the museum, though, the connections between Charlotte’s culture and the culture of the students’ own cultures are even more immediately evident. Costa Rican and Somali students even noticed that the model of an 1860s farmer’s home reminded them of homes in own countries.
The classroom and museum components of this fall’s ESL class will both offer a unique opportunity for people of many different backgrounds and perspectives to unite their own experiences and grow together.