Clayton Helstrom contributed to the video and to the article.
Cedar Cliff language classes celebrated the annual World Language week during the last week of March. Part of the celebration included an International Student panel hosted in the library March 28, featuring current Cedar Cliff students that hail from different countries around the world. Any ESL, exchange, or immigrant students were invited to participate. The students on the panel were from a variety of countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Germany, Kenya, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
Panelist Rey Gonzalez, a freshman, said of the experience, “It was a little bit scary. I was a little nervous, but it was nice talking about my culture and my country.” Gonzalez said he used to speak in public a lot in his home country of Puerto Rico, but that his panelist discussion was his first time speaking publicly in English.
Danita Rizzardo, ESL teacher said of the audience, “I think the students really liked this. They enjoyed hearing different viewpoints.”
French teacher Kim King who functioned as the moderator said that American World Language students look forward to this annual event. “Our ESL and foreign exchange students talk about school, education, family, driving, favorite foods and cultural celebrations in their home countries while comparing their experiences with those in the USA.”
During the panel discussion, other students taking World Language classes such as Spanish, French, and German, were able to sit and ask the panel participants almost any question. They learned about the study abroad experience and strategies on how to acclimate to living in another culture. King said the World Language students appreciate the linguistic abilities of our international students speaking in a second language.
“I really liked it,” said junior Nevina Frese. “I look forward to it every year, especially with the exchange students. It’s a cool opportunity to see what life is like in other countries.”
Rizzardo said she is proud of the student panelists every year. “It’s challenging to get on a panel, speak another language, and answer questions in front of students.”