By Jake Shiner and Taylor Groff –
Six months removed from his home country of China, Xue-An Lin has experienced many American traditions, but Thursday morning he was greeted with a familiar tradition.
Every two weeks the English Second Language students of Penn Manor visit Eshleman Elementary School to meet with their second grade buddies, but this time there was a surprise. A Chinese sort of surprise. The celebration of the Chinese New Year for a special student who has just moved here from the Land of the Dragon.
Xue-An, a member of ESL, doesn’t know very much English, but joy is expressed the same in every language and he showed very much of it.
After the initial surprise they settled down and second grade teacher Patty Detter read a story about Chinese new year’s traditions called the Lion Dancer. The class listened very closely in wonder as they heard the story aloud. Xue-An listened and showed signs of understanding the main ideas even though it was read in English.
Next the second graders made bracelets with Chinese beads as their ESL buddies helped them. They also had a Chinese alphabet written down that the students followed to write their names in the foreign language. Xue-An helped them with all of this.
“We meet with the high school ESL kids every week so it only made sense to do this party,” said Detter, “We already learn about all their cultures in my classroom”
Xue-An spoke to us through a teacher that helped him understand our questions and translated his responses. “I like helping the kids with games and art,” Xue-An said.
He was very surprised about the party the class threw him and was thankful for it, but there were some things he did miss from his home country.
“I miss the food and the girls,” he said with a smile, “But I really like the schools in America”.
Detter and ESL teacher Wendy Letavic put a lot of planning into the surprise. They wanted to make Xue-An feel like he was at home.
“The students were told to wear red because it is a traditional good fortune color in China,” said Letavic.
She also described a little bit more of the Chinese tradition. “The celebration lasts 15 days, on the 8th day they celebrate the birth of the human being, so in China its like its everyone’s’ birthday,” explained Letavic.
A rather funny part of the event was when the food was brought out. To celebrate the Chinese tradition, forks and knives were replaced by chopsticks. The younger students had trouble grasping the technique that Xue-An attempted to teach, and the results would’ve brought a smile to the face of anyone watching over.
The experience was one that Xue-An enjoyed very much and the other ESL students were very happy for him. The second graders had a great time as well, learning from Xue-An and the other high school students.
Letavic said, referring to the ESL students “This is very nice for them because they don’t speak much English, but can still have a fun time while learning new things.”
And that’s the way the fortune cookie crumbles!