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English language learners share their culture with Rio Americano community

Student learning about Ethiopia On March 1, the Global Explorer at Rio Americano (GEAR) club hosted the annual Global Expo, where students and staff from Rio Americano High School were able to travel and experience different cultures without leaving their school.

Groups of diverse students were dressed in traditional clothing representing 10 different ethnic backgrounds and countries of origin, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mexico and Ukraine. Tables were adorned with clothing, jewelry and food that represented each students’ background. Those who participated in the event were given “passports” as entry into the expo and to use to track the different regions they visited.

“My favorite thing is teaching others about my culture, language and food,” said Senaint Syoum, an 11th-grade student at Rio Americano and president of GEAR.

The Global Expo began when Mirna Jope, English Language Development teacher at Rio Americano, was approached with an opportunity to help a CIVITAS student create a senior project involving English language learners. The event became beneficial in improving the community at Rio Americano, as it allowed English learners to educate their peers by sharing their language and culture.

“Global Expo is an opportunity for the English language learners to be the experts in the room,” said Jope.

The event is not limited to current students of Rio Americano - a recent Rio Americano graduate, Ahamad Melad Mayaar, came back from college to represent the country of Afghanistan.

“I came back from college to show everyone my country, my identity and to clear misconceptions people may have,” said Mayaar.