Oakwood ESL Academy

Posted on October 12, 2018

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Oakwood youth, AmeriCorps mebmers, and interns

Oakwood ESL Academy
By Salwa Majeed, CNNC Summer Volunteer, UNCG Graduate Class of 2018

For two weeks in July, the volunteers and coordinators at the Center for New North Carolinians helped host ESL Academy (English for Speakers of other Languages). By organizing hands-on learning activities, field trips, and games, many youth were able to actively engage their minds at the peak of summer. Groups at our Glen Haven, Oakwood Forest, and Legacy Crossing Community Centers all participated in the academy, with the common goal of making sure all the students learned something new.

Oakwood Forest Community Center youth dove head-first into ESL Academy, and our facilitators at this site worked extra hard to bring classroom elements to a whole new environment. For one week, teams went on a tour of local Piedmont-Triad campuses, including stops at NC A&T University, UNC Greensboro, and Guilford College. Students were able to
learn about the history of each campus and its buildings, and explore different education and career opportunities for their own futures.

“We wanted to make it a fun opportunity for the children, something that they felt they were invested in. [We wanted] to give them learning experiences that weren’t just ‘sitting’ here at the Oakwood center,” says Jannifer Pastorick, the Oakwood Forest Community Center Program Coordinator.

These field trips weren’t just tours; to make it interactive, team leaders helped arrange a scavenger hunt at each campus. The children were given special envelopes that held clues, which led them to certain buildings. Once they arrived, they used other information in those envelopes to find facts about the building they were in.

Other interactive tasks included team building exercises, which included creating a team ‘pose’ and signs that were later used in a short film documenting their experiences during the field trips. Mackenzie Phillips, one of the interns at the Oakwood Forest Community Center, took photos and recorded footage during the trips to create the video. Several children later sat with her and helped with the editing process as their stories unfolded on her laptop screen.

“We thought it would be a fabulous idea to get them out onto college campuses, to have the opportunity to feel like a college campus is NOT a foreign place that they’re not welcome at,”says Pastorick. “They were so well-behaved and supported one another. The last day, when we rode back in the van, it was heartwarming to hear them chit-chatting while I was driving, and having these memories,” she continues. “I think that was the best part, the memories we all made together.”

Watch the Oakwood Summer ESL Academy video documenting their trips.

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