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2010 December 1 - 12:00 am

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Laramie College Students Exchange Cultural Tales

AP Photo/Laramie Boomerang, Andy Carpenean

Laramie County Community College English as a Second Language student Alex Lo Wong gets a laugh from instructor Mollie Steinke and others while watching his presentation during a Cathedral Home  for Children English class in Laramie, Wyo.

 LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — In a high school English classroom at the Cathedral Home for Children, Laramie County Community College English for Students of Other Languages (ESOL) student Diogo Zerbetto began telling a story from his home. It went something like this

One day, a fire broke out in a Brazilian rain forest, on what had been an otherwise happy morning.

The forest was filled with all shapes and sizes of animals, and as the fire grew, the animals ran for their lives. One little bird stayed behind. He flew to the river, collected a few drops of water in his beak, returned to the fire and dropped the water on the flames.

An elephant with a large trunk eyed the little bird on his way out of the forest.

“What are you doing? Are you crazy? You can’t stop this fire!” the elephant roared.

“I’m not crazy. I’m only doing my job,” the bird said. “Maybe if everyone did their job, we could put this fire out.”

But no one helped the little bird, and the forest burned.

Zerbetto, who is on a three-month exchange to Laramie with Rotary International, was one of several Laramie County Community College students from around the world to share legends and folktales from their home nations with the Cathedral Home students.

After the LCCC students’ presentations, the Cathedral Home students began sharing their own stories. A student from the Wind River Reservation remembered how, as a boy, his grandmother would tell traditional Northern Arapahoe stories in her ancestral language as she brushed his hair each morning. A girl said she was raised speaking Spanish and is learning American Sign Language, and the stories in each differ from those she hears in English. A third student said he lived in Romania until he was five, but probably wouldn’t remember the stories he heard as a boy.

LCCC student Sun Yu, here with her husband and son from China, told the story of the three butterflies red, yellow and purple who could not find shelter from the rain. Giovanni Pimentel, an LCCC student from the Dominican Republic, told the Aesop fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” and Panamanian LCCC student Alex Lo Weng, whose family is originally from China, told the story of “Tikki Tikki Tembo.” Hwang-Dei Kim from South Korea shared the story of an old “wenny” man a man with a fleshy bulb on his face who has a run-in with goblins.

The international students, all enrolled at the Albany County Campus of LCCC, are sharing folktales from their countries at various locations around the Laramie community. The ESOL learners are discovering their host community while giving back to the people of Laramie, according to teacher Mollie Steinke.

The students spent hours learning correct pronunciation, recording the tales, creating PowerPoint slideshows of the tales and writing the tales with correct punctuation. They have presented the stories to the first and second grade classes at St. Laurence and Slade schools and will visit the Laramie Care Center.

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