Global Reach – Tarrant County College

“His name is Salwa. In Arabic, it means peace, happiness.

The iPhone passes respectfully from hand to hand. The group of women admire the baby’s curly black hair and expressive brown eyes. With nods and smiles, and in a patient exchange of Arabic, French, English and Chinese, the women agree: Salwa is a beautiful name for a beautiful, smart baby. The daughter follows in her mother’s footsteps.

This mother, Sahar Lateef, immigrated to the United States in 2019, joining her current husband on a K-1 fiancée visa. At first, the culture shock and language barrier left Lateef yearning for the familiar sights and sounds of Iraq. “Everything was difficult for me. Our countries are very different. Lifestyle, traffic, family relationships, customs. And the biggest challenge for me was the language.

Shortly after moving to Texas, Lateef enrolled in English classes at Tarrant County College. In English for Speakers of Other Languages ​​(ESOL), students hone their reading, writing, and verbal communication skills, preparing for college-level courses in their chosen fields of study.

Janelle Cardenas, Special Projects Coordinator at TCC Northeast, recognizes their hard work and determination. ” Learning English [ELL] students come to TCC because they understand that learning English is key to their success. TCC Northeast ELL students are highly motivated and ready to learn.

For Lateef, hard work and determination led to success in ESOL courses, paving the way for academic success and scholarship opportunities. With encouragement from his TCC instructors and writing tutor, Lateef entered the TCC Northwest Cooking, Culture and Community writing contest. Lateef’s winning essay “Dolma Memories” shares an intimate portrait of family life as three generations of women cook up a cherished family recipe. The rich colors and flavors of Lateef’s childhood cooking evoke a melting pot of memories.

Food, the universal language

Selina Asare, an honored TCC student and mother of four, comes to life at the mention of her favorite topic of conversation.

“Food! I miss my African food! I miss my millet porridge, my jollof rice, my banku and okro soup. I miss my plantains. In Ghana, we have so many kinds of plantains! The food we eat in Ghana… oh, the dried tilapia! I miss my bofrot…”

Bofrot, or puff pastry, is a traditional fried donut popular in many West African countries. And for Asare, bofrot has been an unexpected catalyst for creative writing assignments. Asare’s passion for cooking has influenced several projects, including a blog for his English class and an oral cooking demonstration.

Group of international students eating snacksBut Asare’s proudest accomplishment at TCC is winning the Juneteenth 2021 contest at TCC Northeast. In his video submission, Asare shares a powerful reading of his poem “Voices of Africa”. Dressed in traditional Ashanti Kente cloth, Asare weaves the horrors and heartbreak of slavery with the lyrics of her beloved national song, “Ghana My Happy Home”. The poem reveals a deep sense of loss and betrayal over the legacy of racism in the United States.

Asked about her experiences living there, Asare admits to having doubts about immigrating to the United States 11 years ago. “At first, coming to America was like a dream come true because people back home see America as heaven on earth. However, when I got here, I realized there was racial politics and paranoia. America is tough. There are so many challenges for immigrants, especially the language barrier. Everything is different.”

On the surface, international students often identify the language barrier as their main struggle. However, when immigrants like Asare remember their homelands, they reveal subtle (and not-so-subtle) layers of culture shock and isolation.

“Here you can’t really taste and smell Ghana,” says Asare. “When you go to Ghana, the air you breathe is different. The smell is different. I miss the noise – everyone is talking, the music. Here it’s too private, too quiet. feels very lonely here.

Intercultural connections

Many immigrant students experience a sense of alienation as they face the challenges of language and cultural barriers. Juliana Owuori, ESOL instructor at TCC Northeast, understands the complex range of emotions experienced by students in her class. In fact, she relates to their struggles through first-hand experience.

“English is also my second language. I recognize the challenges of immigration and have great respect for the courage and hard work of my students. I love teaching English as a second language to adults because it can change their quality of life here in the United States. I try to motivate, inspire and build their confidence.

Group of international students standing outside a building on Northeast CampusAs students develop valuable communication skills, they also discover a new home away from home, an international community of friends. One such community is Cultures of Other Languages, affectionately known as the COOL Club at TCC Northeast.

“COOL Club is my favorite!” exclaims co-president Mohamed Yhya. “It’s a great experience, a club that brings together international students to share their cultures. This is a place to enjoy English and a casual conversation. I really love him so much!”

With his charismatic personality and friendly smile, Yhya is an enthusiastic ambassador for cross-cultural connections. In 2019, Mohamed immigrated to the United States from Sudan via China.

“It’s a complicated story,” he laughs. “I was studying in China, working on my master’s degree in Chinese language when I won the visa lottery. I saw the words congratulations before I even opened the envelope, and I was so happy! So happy!”

Like many immigrant students at TCC, Mohamed is multilingual. He enjoys meeting people from all over the world. “As international students, we share the same kind of problems, so being together helps us succeed. COOL Club brings us together to share our cultures. I really like.”

Lateef, the club’s co-president, agrees. “I was very excited to have a role in this club. I really want to learn about new students and cultures. Knowing new friends… it makes me very happy. shared her daughter’s photo with friends.

When asked why the students chose the name COOL Club, member Yoonsun Hur laughs. “It’s cool. In South Korea, we all learn this word. American slang is very popular.

A classical pianist and musical theater director, Hur has lived in the United States since August 2021.

“I tried to learn English in many ways,” she explains. Her strategies include watching American TV shows and reading children’s books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid. “Cartoons have short sentences. I can understand easily, but slang is very difficult.

As a student at TCC, Hur’s greatest accomplishments include meeting new people and improving her communication skills. “I can get to know American friends. I have the confidence to speak with them in English. I’m very proud.”

Recognizing the need for social opportunities on campus, ESOL Instructor Owuori and Teaching Assistant Wendi Crandell volunteered to serve as COOL Club Advisors. As Owuori observed in her class, “ESL/ESOL students are often shy and usually don’t participate in campus activities beyond coming to class. I hope this club will prosper and be a tool for community development.

Owuori’s hopes were boosted by the success of COOL Club’s first appearance at the TCC Northeast International Festival this year. Herve Boki, a student in one of Owuori’s classes, described the event as fostering a sense of belonging: “It’s the first time I feel like I’m part of TCC.

Group of international students holding their fingers up to represent how many years they have lived in the United States

How to support English learners

TCC employees and students can help English learners in many ways.

  • Provide ESL-ESOL students with opportunities to socialize outside of class. If a campus does not have a club for international and immigrant students, consider starting one.
  • Introduce students to campus resources such as tutoring labs, libraries, and recreation centers. Field trips and scavenger hunts help students learn about campus services beyond the classroom.
  • Create interdisciplinary language partnerships. Many international students enjoy practicing English with native speakers. Pairing ESL-ESOL students with students enrolled in world language courses improves learning outcomes for all.

Learn more about all of TCC’s Community Development Clubs.

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