George, Wen, and Fu Interact with Diverse Middle School Students through Online ESL Panel Discussion

Posted on 12/17/2014 7:55:17 PM

On December 5, 2014, May George, a post-doctoral fellow and Frederick Douglas Institute Scholar at IUP, and doctoral students Huachuan Wen and Yao Fu, from Professional Studies in Education, shared their successful cross-cultural experiences with about 20 middle school students in Pittsburgh using Google Hangouts. 

The students were seventh and eighth graders, including 10 English as a Second Language (ESL) students and their American friends, at Gateway School District in Pittsburgh. During the ESL panel discussion, George (from Iraq) and Wen and Fu (from China) led the video conference by sharing their intriguing yet inspiring experiences in adjusting to cultural differences and gaining accomplishments both in life and academic pursuit since immigrating to the United States. They also interacted with the students by exchanging questions and responses toward the end of the discussion. Hassan Bakri, a dentist from Syria who practices in Mt. Lebanon, also participated in person.

Krysten Loiello, the ESL teacher for Gateway students in grades 5-12, is also a graduate from the Master of Education program in Professional Studies in Education at IUP. She said she wanted the presentation to show the students they could be successful in academia or the workforce, even when navigating those worlds in a second language. In the feedback from her, she said the panel discussion was definitely a rewarding and inspiring experience for her students.

“This is the first time we’ve done something quite like this,” said middle school assistant principal Joe DiLucente, who also heads the language-teaching program. He also hoped to make possible more opportunities like this for his students.

An article regarding the ESL panel at Gateway Middle School was in the December 11, 2014 edition of The Times Express.

Professional Studies in Education