World Languages Department Helps at JoAnna Connell


Christina Judy, Staff writer

The World Languages Department spent a few hours volunteering with the Carpe Diem program at JoAnna Connell Elementary School.
The Carpe Diem program is an after-school program where kids stay longer at school until their parents are able to pick them up.
A few people from some of the World Language Department recruited students studying their language to help entertain the kids with different activities.
The Spanish table played a game called Loteria with the kids for their activity which is like Mexican Bingo.
The Russian table, which was run by the Russian Fulbright, Kristina Smagina, had coloring pages of Matryoshka Dolls. The dolls are a famous symbol of Russian culture and the kids would color the dolls however they wanted.
The Arabic table was run by Samira Bahadi who is the Fulbright for this language.
She taught the kids how to write their names in Arabic and taught them about her home country. The kids loved showing off their names in another language and their colorful dolls.
The Mandarin table was run by Meng Wang, Ph.D., and the students were also exposed to writing their names in Mandarin.
Senior Psychology and Spanish major, Sabrina Pizzarelli who was there representing the Spanish table said, “I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering with the kids. They were all so eager to learn and were trying to speak in the other languages.”
The kids who participated in the activities were in first and second grade.
And a few of them spoke one of the languages that were represented in this event at home.
They enjoyed showing off the language they speak other than English. “I hope they were able to learn something about foreign cultures and that we were able to spark an interest in foreign language and culture,” said Pizzarelli.
Alice Edwards, Ph.D., Chair of the department of world languages, coordinated the event between the two schools.
Edwards tries to have the department visit other local elementary schools to help spark an interest in world languages from a young age.
The Spanish table had help from a few native speakers who are here through a program. Luciana is from Nicaragua and Maria Siri is from Venezuela. They were able to talk to the students about the differences in culture between both the United States and their respective countries, but they also discovered that there are some differences between their own cultures.
The Mercyhurst Education Department has a partnership with this elementary school so some Mercyhurst students were there helping run the program to gain more experience working with kids.
The Department of World Languages is going to Grover Cleveland Elementary school on March 24 for their multicultural day.
The department partners with Language in Motion ™️, which is a program that promotes colleges and upper-level language speakers to help encourage the study of foreign languages in elementary school students.
If you are interested in volunteering on March 24, reach out to Dr. Edwards.