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Integrating Multi Lingual Students 

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By: James Berridge, Lions Eye Writer jrb1055@psu.edu

An event that schooled the audience on perception and application of cultural and language differences left Brandywine students all a little bit more compassionate.

Hosting the December event included three of Brandywine’s very own multilingual students, as well as two guest speakers from the University of San Francisco, Dr. Johnnie Hafernik and Dr. Fredel Wiant.  The guest speakers spoke about the challenges of students who are not originally from this country and the different obstacles they must overcome.

Eric Garay, Fatimat Karamoko and Lazine Chowdhruy are three Penn State Brandywine students, but are from far different backgrounds then the majority of fellow students. They informed the standing room only crowd about life here in the United States and how it differs from life in their home country.

They informed the crowd that what seems like easy tasks for someone originally from this country, may be difficult for someone that is not.

“For someone whose first language is not English, it is difficult for us to put our idea onto paper while writing an essay,” Garay said.

Fatimat came to the United States in 2007 from West Africa.

“In Africa they do not teach English until college,” Fatimat said.  “Since I was still in high school when my family moved here, I was not able to learn any English until my first day of school.”

The students also told stories of their home country and the differences from their schools back home in comparison to education here in the States.

“The most surprising thing about American schools is the freedom that the students are given,” Fatimat said. “I like that I can share my thoughts here.”

The students also gave some tips on how to teach to a non-native student.

“Cursive writing is much harder to read than print as a bilingual student,”  Garay stated.

“Activities after lectures help us learn the material much better,” Fatimat added.

As the event was coming to a close, a new sense of understanding was evident in the room.  Although Africa may just be an Atlantic Ocean away, to Fatimat and the rest of the guest speakers, it’s a totally different world.

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