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  • Writer's pictureAbby Fowler

American Language and Multi-Cultural Diversity: A Multi-Regional Project

The delegation observes a bilingual elementary school program in West Liberty.

From March 16th – 21st, we hosted a multi-regional delegation in eastern Iowa! They were here for an IVLP project titled “American language and Multi-Cultural Diversity.” In Iowa, they aimed to learn about language and cultural curriculum development and effective instruction models. All 11 of the visitors came from different countries, namely Argentina, Chile, Georgia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Ukraine.

Board member Katie Ron (left) greets the members of the delegation at their hotel.

The delegation was originally supposed to arrive the evening of Thursday, March 16th, but their flight was unfortunately delayed overnight. They ended up arriving the next afternoon and unfortunately could not attend two of their scheduled meetings. Stephen Merkel-Hess, Horacio Borgen, and Board member Katie Ron greeted them at their hotel before sending them off for a unique evening of Iowa Table Dinners. The delegation first visited Ken and Cathy Klein’s home for an appetizer course. After, they went to the home of Executive Director Amy Alice Chastain and her Estonian host daughter Maria Õunap for the main course. They finished up with dessert at the home of John and DeeAnn Hebrink.

On Saturday morning, joined by Horacio Borgen, the delegation visited Kalona Historical Village for a step on, step off tour that included the local Buggy Shop as well as the Goat Dairy Farm. They returned to Iowa City and had the rest of the day free to explore and relax.

Sunday, March 19th, was a free day for most of the delegation. The three visitors that did not attend Friday night’s Iowa Table Dinners attended a dinner hosted by Ed and Carol Moreno in West Liberty.

Members of the delegation engage with a teacher at the West Liberty Community School District.

The next morning the delegation returned to West Liberty for a visit to the West Liberty Community School District, accompanied by volunteers Stephen Merkel-Hess and Ed Moreno. Brenda Arthur-Miller, High School Principal and the Director of the Dual Language program, met them to discuss the Dual Language Program at the local elementary school.

After a break for lunch, the group met Amy Alice Chastain again, who walked them from their hotel to the University Capitol Centre for a meeting with the University of Iowa English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs. There, Amy Alice, Associate Professor of Instruction and ESL Programs Outreach Coordinator, along with Melissa Meisterheim, Ph.D., Director of English as a Second Language Programs and Associate Professor of Instruction, led the group in a discussion about making the most of participation at Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association’s Annual Convention and the professional association throughout the year. Because the delegation was leaving the next day to attend this convention, this meeting served as preparation for their attendance.

The next afternoon, the delegation departed Iowa for California with a new perspective on America’s diversity.

Thank you to West Liberty High School and ESL Programs for serving as our professional resources for this program! We appreciate you taking the time out of your day to connect with our delegation. We would also like to thank Dr. Pam Wesely and Dr. Lia Plakans of the University of Iowa College of Education, whose scheduled meetings were cancelled due to the delegation’s flight delays. Although your meetings couldn’t end up happening, we still appreciate you volunteering your time to meet with this delegation.

Thank you also to our volunteers Katie Ron, Ken and Cathy Klien, Amy Alice Chastain and Maria Õunap, John and DeeAnn Hebrink, Horacio Borgen, Ed and Carol Moreno, and Stephen Merkel-Hess for greeting and guiding our visitors! Your presence and candid conversation are what makes their time in Iowa truly special.


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