‘Stoga’s ESL night engages students from foreign backgrounds


By Umar Samdani, Staff Reporter

Traditionally, Conestoga’s ESL night has been a way for foreign families to convene, interact with teachers and help their child become accustomed to the English language. Now, the variety of cultural foods and the sounds of children playing various games show that it serves a much more impactful purpose.  

On Nov. 7, the walls of the cafeteria were hung with various flags, from Vietnam to Pakistan. As music played in the background, a table containing foods from all over the world – including Chinese dumplings and Indian biryani – was set up. As the staff took pictures of families from around the world, ESL students played games with each other, and children were dancing in the center of the cafeteria.

Relina Li, the president of the Multicultural Club, believes that she can better adapt to her new environment with these types of events.

“When people come to a new environment, they’re super nervous and need friends. When I came here, it was almost like a barrier. I [was] afraid talking to people because of my accent. This club helped me to know more people, and it brought me into this country,” Li said.

The Conestoga community also benefits from interacting with these diverse cultures. Teachers were present to both formally meet their students and informally learn about their student’s culture, heritage and language.

Sarah Taylor, the advisor of the multicultural club, believes that the event has multiple benefits.

“Sometimes (ESL night) is the only way families get to mingle with their child’s teachers and get to know their other families. There’s also a lot of opportunities to practice their language, and students usually feel more comfortable with someone who had that experience or speaks the same language,” Taylor said.

The next event that the multicultural club will host is the Thanksgiving feast. Students will have a traditional thanksgiving meal, in addition to bringing their own Thanksgiving customs.

Umar Samdani can be reached at [email protected]