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ESL Students Provide, Benefit From Community Service

Ibrahim Al-Maiyouf hones his English-speaking skills and learns a new diversion with the help of card-playing South Williamsport seniors.Six students from Pennsylvania College of Technology’s English as a Second Language class recently completed service learning projects at the Messiah Lutheran Senior Center and The Campbell Street Youth, Family and Community Association.

The projects ran throughout the Spring 2009 semester and were designed to be mutually beneficial for the students and the participating community agencies.

The ESL students Ibrahim Al-Maiyouf, Saeed Al-Ghamdi, Mustafa Al-Taleb, Waleed Awaji, Khader Al-Ghamdi and Abdulrahman Al-Zahrani volunteered in the project for two hours each week, interacting with and helping others in the community. Through the valuable opportunities the agencies provided, the students were able to meet people, improve their language skills and learn about American culture. Their involvement also helped them gain confidence using English and provided chances for intergenerational connections.

Saeed Al-Ghamdi plays basketball with children at The Campbell Street Youth, Family and Community Association - better known as The Center.In return for the experience they gained at the sites, the students who volunteered at the Messiah Lutheran Senior Center were able to share about their culture, play cards, prepare Meals on Wheels, serve lunch and collect survey responses. According to Jane Thompson, the center’s director, the seniors enjoyed the chance to teach another generation about card games and American culture.

The students who volunteered at The Campbell Street Youth, Family and Community Association were able to assist children with homework, help in the computer lab, take charge in games and help monitor open-gym times. In addition to these services, the staff at the Williamsport facility appreciated a chance for the children to interact with international students and be exposed to another culture.

“The students came ready to engage our children participating in the after-school program,” said Heather Eisner, informational specialist. “They were excited about the opportunity and were very pleasant. The experience overall was enjoyable for everyone. The children frequently ask how the students are doing. They developed a bond with the students through their partnership in the after-school program.”

Photos by Jody L. Lantz, ESL specialist