Traditions: Refreshments and Dinners
The community center, located in the Wedgwood Shopping Center, had two small classrooms, a kitchen, and a large room where we met for a break halfway through the class time. John brought a cake or cookies and the staple, croissants, each week. He also rolled in an ice chest with sodas and water, and we made a pot of coffee for break time. Occasionally one of us teachers would bring homemade cookies. I remember one time when I brought a cobbler, my dessert specialty, along with ice cream. The students had never tried cobbler, so at first they just got a bowl of ice cream. Then one brave soul tried the cobbler, told the others it was good, so they came back and put cobbler on their ice cream.
Two other traditions relating to food also began in those early years. John decided he wanted our students to learn about Thanksgiving firsthand, so on the ESL night before Thanksgiving we volunteers brought turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, mashed potatoes (always John's contribution), rolls and pumpkin pie. We laugh about the first year when John bought a pressed turkey breast which didn't give a very accurate visual of a real turkey to our students. After that, Hope or one of the other ladies roasted a genuine turkey. The students loved our traditional food, and each year John told or read the story of the first Thanksgiving. It became an annual event which we have continued until now. In the years to come when our numbers began to multiply, the ESL volunteers needed help in preparing enough food for all our students, and our church members stepped in to help. Each year one volunteer would be in charge of enlisting people to bring the necessary number of dishes.
"O Give Thanks to the Lord" - Thanksgiving 2008
|Thanksgiving Dinners Through the Years|
|We're here to serve you!|
|Enjoying a Thanksgiving Feast|
We also began the tradition of having students prepare their favorite dishes and bringing them on the last night of each semester for a potluck dinner of native cuisine from all over the world. We have tasted a variety of delicious dishes from many countries. We have also marveled at the many different ways a staple, such as rice, can be prepared. On the last day of ESL in the spring semester, students are presented with certificates and group pictures of each class are taken. John then gives gifts to all the volunteers and students, and we volunteers present a gift to John to show our appreciation for his dedication and leadership. Everyone leaves feeling valued and appreciated. This tradition has continued with one exception. The time came when we had too many students to hand them certificates individually, so now teachers give students certificates during class time; however, they still enjoy the photo ops with their group.