St. Charles’ ESL students may have “followed the yellow brick road” to Canada, but an ESL Extravaganza on November 6th showed “there’s no place like home.”
ESL students had a chance to share their culture and customs at an extravaganza that celebrated diversity through song and dance. This year’s “Wizard of Oz” theme was a statement about family, and home being where you make it. The gym was decorated with yellow bricks bearing the flags of the students’ native countries. Like Dorothy, many of the students had ventured to an unfamiliar yet welcoming place. And like the characters of Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow, they found the courage to begin a new life in Canada, the heart to embrace a new home, and the wisdom to pursue their studies and acquire new skills.
Indicating that Dorothy was integral to the characters removing the barriers to their happiness, TOEFL teacher Lily Pietra told the students, “We want to be your Dorothy.”
“St. Charles is here to guide you to the courage, strength, knowledge and heart that lie within you and put you on the right road in order to get there,” she said. “Don’t give up, don’t stop searching, hold your head up and stay on the path.”
The extravaganza kicked off with a cultural parade of students wearing costumes from around the world to a backdrop of “Born to Be Alive.” ESL student Elizabeth Almassy, a professional opera singer from Hungary, set the bar with her performance of “Over the Rainbow,” receiving a standing ovation from the audience of more than 600.
The show included other show-stopping numbers by Elisa Vasquez who performed a Peruvian dance, a Tibetan song by Tao Duan, bongo drums by Patrick Lualua, Kurdish dancing and singing, a flute solo by Reinaldo Blanco, and songs and dances from Congo, Nigeria, Jordan, Russia, Venezuela, China, Guinea and Hungary. Salsa dancer Jose Rios Ayala, a recent transplant from Columbia, drew a loud cheer from the Latin American members of the audience, who joined in the dance.
The show wrapped up with a lunch of pizza, cheese and vegetable, and cookies and desserts prepared by St. Charles chef training program students under the supervision of Chefs Vijay and Charlene.
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