MCC students learn English through food and performance

Published: Jan. 29, 2020 at 8:10 PM CST
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Food is something that connects all of us. Wednesday afternoon, students learning English as a second language shared stories about food experiences in their home countries and in the U.S.

As the seats filled up inside the Muscatine Community College, one by one, students lined up on stage. They engaged with the audience easing the room with smiles. Making it easy to forget that English is not the first language for these performers.

One thing that connected everyone in the room was food.

“Everybody eats and everybody has foods that they like that come out of their cultures,” Mary Swander said.

The “Fork Tales” performance was created by Mary Swander. She runs Swander Women Production where she helps communities or in this case schools share their own stories about food and farming.

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges connected Swander with the students in the English Language Acquisition program. She interviewed and transcribed the student’s monologues.

“This Fufu, you have it. You got to be happy forever,” Alexandre Behezi said.

As well as trying new foods in the United States like black beans.

“I didn't want to eat it because I didn't know how it tastes. Then after that, I tried it, it's not bad, it tastes good,” Clementine Ngolela said.

Proving no matter where in the world you are from. Food brings us all together.

“I met a lot of different countries people. We became very friendly and we are like a family,” Domenica Vitale said.

The students that are part of the English language acquisition program came from different countries like Togo, Brazil, Ivory Coast, Ukraine, China, and other countries.

They will take this performance and head to Grinnell College next.

Eastern Iowa Community College offers the English Language Acquisition program in Clinton, Muscatine, Davenport, and other cities.