Neil Chethik is a worker with the Carnegie Literacy and Learning center in Kentucky that helps immigrants and refugees learn English as a second language. The center has attendees from over ten different countries, and they all gather together on different nights of the week to attend volunteer-led English classes. Though the volunteers aren’t professional translators, many people are still learning the English skills they need to get jobs and to assimilate into the community. To celebrate the international community, the center will be holding a Reading and Eating night on October 25th.
Reading and Eating Night Will Feature Ethnic Food and Poetry
The point of having the Reading and Eating night is so that people can become more comfortable hearing a roomful of different languages. Chethik says that it’s not uncommon for people to think speaking in another language is rude or a sign of hostility, but it’s not that at all. Sometimes people just lack the ability to speak in any other language but their own, even if they don’t live in their own country. Chethik has invited many different people from the community to attend the Reading and Eating event so that they can see how different cultures can interact positively with each other, even when they are speaking a different language. Translation services will be provided by volunteers and by the center attendees themselves.
The entertainment for the night will consist of a potluck of different ethnic dishes. Each person attending is encouraged to bring food that is unique to their culture to share with everyone else. Also, different speakers who have volunteered for the night will share poetry from their country in their native language and then they will provide an English translation. Jeremy Paden will read a poem from Mexico and provide a Spanish translation and then repeat the poem in the English he has learned through the center classes. Vijay Singh will do a Hindi-to-English poem, Hadil Abdalla will present an Arabic-to-English poem, and various other performers will recite native poetry in French, Polish, Korean, and Bulgarian.
The International Night Is Intended to Foster Cultural Competency in Kentucky
The international night of Reading and Eating isn’t just for the people enrolled in the community center’s English programs to have a night off and eat some food. The center wants to promote a better cultural competency in Kentucky by having the local community mingle with different ethnicities and cultures. The English classes are immersion classes and they only permit people to speak English through the entire class period. The international Reading and Eating night is a chance for people to celebrate their cultures and for once be the person to provide the translator services by sharing a piece of their heritage and culture through their native poetry.
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